Dear editor,It is a disgrace that in a country as rich as Canada, child poverty rates have remained unchanged since 1989--the year when all parties then represented in Parliament passed a unanimous resolution calling for the elimination of child poverty by the year 2000.
It is also shameful that across the country food banks, originally intended to be a stop gap measure to tide people over in difficult times, have grown to the point where literally thousands of people depend on them to feed themselves. And many of these people are the working poor, who because of low minimum wages have to choose between the rent or food, not both! The National Council of Welfare estimates 15% of Canadians, or about 4.9 million, are living in poverty. Clearly something is very wrong with this picture. In 1967 Martin Luther King Jr. said: "I am now convinced that the simplest approach will prove to be the most effective..the solution to poverty is to abolish it directly by a now widely discussed measure: the guaranteed income." I agree with Diane Swinemar, who was quoted in Bruce Wark's column, that all levels of government must stop blaming each other and work together. They should be working together to develop a Guaranteed Livable Income. Critics will say we can't afford such a program. In fact, with poverty being the single largest determinant of ill health and with soaring health care costs, as well as all the other societal costs associated with it, we can't afford not to eliminate poverty. As well, eliminating poverty will allow Social Services to focus on delivering appropriate mental health and addiction services that are currently so badly underfunded. A national housing program and a livable minimum wage are also required.
Ultimately, the failure to eliminate poverty will cost our society much more than a guaranteed livable income.
Respectfully,Michael Oddy,Green Party of Canada critic for Poverty Elimination
By Michael Oddy