Poverty problem systemic

TheStar.com – Opinion/letter – Poverty problem systemic
December 09, 2008

Re:Long years of poor bashing finally brought to an end, Comment Dec. 8

There is more to poverty reduction than welfare reform. Pat Capponi’s comments are well taken: Ontario Works and ODSP are disgraces, but it is dangerous to limit poverty reduction to reform of social assistance. Most poor people work and their poverty is caused by low wages, difficulty organizing and regulations that reward the hiring of casual labour.

Poverty is caused by the workings of the economic system, governmental laws and public ideas. The solution to poverty is providing working people with more political and economic power, such as is seen in nations that have virtually eliminated poverty: Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland.

Are the McGuinty Liberals prepared to have a society where only 5 per cent of workers are low wage earners (earning less than two-thirds the average wage)? Today that figure is 21 per cent in Canada.

The task is not to “Break the Cycle,” which implies poverty is an individual problem, but rather to fix the economic system since it is the concentration of wealth and power among the business sector that causes high rates of poverty.

Dennis Raphael, Professor, School of Health Policy, York University

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