How about a crackdown on hypocrisy?

TheStar.com – opinion/letters – Re: Welfare diet cash crackdown, Feb. 27
Published On Tue Mar 01 2011.    Helga Steyer

I, for one, would like to see a “crackdown” on the hypocrisy perpetrated by this government with respect to welfare basic and special allowances.

Before they were elected, the Liberals decried the draconian measures implemented by the Conservatives in cuts to welfare allowances and eligibility. Successive ministers have done little enough to repair the damage, promising only “to review” the program.

All levels of government express concerns about the health and diets of Canadians. They spend large amounts of money to promote drastic changes in habits, regulate nutrition information in restaurants and on food packaging, set limits to the use of certain ingredients and additives to processed and prepared foods, and advertise the health benefits of eating fresh, healthy food. They warn that without such changes our medical system and budgets will be overwhelmed by patients with preventable diseases.

There are three things the government needs to consider with respect to the integrity of its welfare program. The first is that income is the major predictor of health and medical outcomes, starting with prenatal care. The second is that basic welfare allowances for both food and shelter are woefully inadequate, and bear no resemblance to rising real costs. The third is that chronically dehumanizing and criminalizing the poorest and most vulnerable citizens — overwhelmingly the sick, the old, the young, the disabled, the unemployed — perpetuates a mentality that they are the cause, not the victims, of our social problems. It is shameful.

Helga Steyer, Toronto

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