Here’s hoping for results on poverty front

TheStar.com – opinion/letters – Re: Root causes of inequality and poverty, Letter Dec. 10
Published On Wed Dec 15 2010.   Sandra Hanmer

Peter Clutterbuck, in his response to Minister Madeleine Meilleur’s reference to reform that will “empower low-income Ontarians, including social assistance recipients to break out of the cycle of poverty,” has been an advocate for impoverished people for long enough to realize that attributing meanings to other people’s statements on the subject, is not a helpful exercise.

The rate of inter-generational poverty may, thankfully, be lower in Canada than some other countries. However, it exists. It doesn’t always have — although, again, it would be disingenuous to suggest it never has had — anything to do with something inherently deficient in “poor” people. Each of us is made up of varying degrees of what’s necessary to “pull ourselves up by our bootstraps.” Some just can’t do it.

To most people “the cycle of poverty” is the “cycle” inflicted from the very outside sources Clutterbuck enumerates and which are well known to all of us: inadequate income support in the first place, lack of affordable housing, lack of substantial training to make the leap into a wage or better wage bracket, and most notoriously, the labyrinthine and tortuous rules and regulations surrounding delivery of a far less than stellar support system.

Surely the goal is to improve life of the impoverished by giving them the best possible opportunities. This will never be achieved while we have different factions sniping at each other and trying to score points.

Let’s hope the proposed Social Assistance Review will result in some true and workable reforms that — I don’t hold my breath — will not just end up on a government shelf somewhere.

Sandra Hanmer, Hamilton

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