All taxpayers bear the costs of poverty – Opinion/letter – All taxpayers bear the costs of poverty
November 23, 2008

Re:Everyone pays the province’s $38 billion cost, Nov. 20

With the economic crisis bearing down on everyone from CEOs to single moms, it is tempting to cut back on social spending, claiming we simply don’t have the money. Laurie Monsebraaten’s article about the universal costs of poverty and the research completed by the Ontario Association of Food Banks show us that this would be precisely the wrong action to take. Poverty is, in fact, very expensive to our social systems and all tax-paying citizens bear the costs.

Many would blame the poor themselves for these costs, arguing that their bad choices created their situations, that they should get themselves out of it, and that it is not our responsibility to rescue them. But those who take this position fail to recognize the restricted choices available to those who bear the burdens of poverty and the barriers built into our systems that both create poverty and perpetuate it. Mental illness is not a choice. Welfare is not a free ride. Dignity is not a luxury.

With a $12 return on every $1 investment in programs that address the root causes of poverty, we can indeed spend our way out of this crisis. Now is precisely the time to invest in reforming existing systems and creating new programs that can actually assist people out of poverty rather than erecting even more barriers to their success.

Megan McGuiness, Toronto

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