HL: Are we doing enough to tackle poverty?
I heard Treasury Board President and Nova Scotia MP Scott Brison boasting the other day about how Canada has been outperforming most Western economies and that job creation has reached a 10-year high in this country.
That may very well be true, but let’s not be fooled by the forecasts and statistics. They are simply masking an underlying problem federal and provincial governments have failed to address. That is the poverty too many Canadians continue to live with every day and the fact one in eight Canadians struggle to put food on the table.
Earlier this month, we marked the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. In observance of this day the SOAR Community Health Board, Society of St. Vincent de Paul and the YMCA of Cumberland participated in the “Chew on This” campaign which is sponsored by Dignity for All.
Dignity for All campaigns for a poverty free Canada. It calls on the federal government to develop a rights based Canadian Poverty Reduction Strategy that addresses: 1) income security, 2) housing, 3)health, 4) food security, 5) jobs and employment and 6) early childhood education and care.
So what does poverty look like in Canada in 2017? Well, the Citizens for Public Justice has come up with its latest poverty trends report which indicates we have some work to do in this country.
The reality is that most adults living in poverty are employed, but they are often overlooked and have limited policy supports.
People with disabilities are highly vulnerable to poverty, particularly those facing multiple discriminations.
Over 43 per cent of those living in poverty are children from single parent families and are most often female-led.
Some of our highest poverty rates shamefully continue to be among Indigenous people who are part of the continuous legacy of colonization.
Overall, 13.9 per cent of our population or about 4.8 million Canadians are living in poverty.
Citizens for Public Justice points out that in addition to economic measures, poverty also involves social, political, and cultural marginalization, with impacts on self-worth, spiritual vitality, and the well-being of communities. Individuals that face multiple barriers have an increased vulnerability to poverty.
While we might believe that our single voice won’t make a difference, collectively we can bring pressure to bear upon our politicians to act.
It is interesting how the Trudeau government took notice of a strong and boisterous lobby from business groups and professionals when they aired their grievances over proposed tax changes.
If we could harness that same energy for our neighbours and friends who are living in poverty, positive change could happen.
Geoff deGannes is the past chairman of the Tantramar Radio Society. His daily commentaries can be heard on 107.9 CFTA.