• Why millennials are lapping up every tweet and podcast from 94-year-old agitator Harry Leslie Smith

    Smith preaches about preserving democracy and the welfare state, creating a just society and living a life of compassion… he isn’t a politician or political theorist, instead he “speaks from experience in his bones” and delivers life lessons “with moral clarity.” Smith’s message — about how they should expect fair wages, pensions and workplace benefits — is not one that today’s younger generation is accustomed to hearing.

  • Allan MacEachen, overseer of social reform and skilled politician, dies at 96

    MacEachen was one of Canada’s most powerful cabinet ministers of the postwar era and held a variety of posts, including a term as minister of national health and welfare from 1965-1968 during the creation of medicare. As labour minister, MacEachen was also instrumental in reforming the labour code and establishing a new standard for the minimum wage. His other portfolios also included finance and he twice served as secretary of state for external affairs.

  • Once Upon A City: Poor house helped Toronto’s destitute

    The House of Industry provided both temporary and permanent accommodations. Residents were often required to do chores in return for help… Abandoned children and orphans were often placed as indentured servants in homes and farms around Toronto, where they were given room and board (and perhaps wages) in return for their work. A farm’s survival relied heavily on the work of children back then… By 1947, the House of Industry’s clients were primarily the elderly poor

  • Homeless battled unsafe shelters during the Great Depression

    Late in 1938… Mayor Day had introduced new requirements for single unemployed men using the hostels… The men were expected to work seven hours in return for a week’s lodging and food at Wellington House and other institutions for the homeless. Thought of paying the out-of-work for their labour on the relief project was judged beyond consideration… some who undertook their seven hours work were actually turned away from city hostels, which were filled to capacity.

  • The Best News You Don’t Know [global poverty rates]

    The number of people living in extreme poverty ($1.90 per person per day) has tumbled by half in two decades, and the number of small children dying has dropped by a similar proportion — that’s six million lives a year saved by vaccines, breast-feeding promotion, pneumonia medicine and diarrhea treatments! Historians may conclude that the most important thing going on in the world in the early 21st century was a stunning decline in human suffering… Internationally, inequality is on the decline because of gains by the poor in places like China and India.

  • The Trudeau Liberals just prioritized one of Richard Nixon’s favourite conservative policies: ‘mincome’

    Had he beaten Pierre Trudeau in the 1968 election, Stanfield promised that a guaranteed annual income was the first plank in his party’s plan to ensure “decent life and equal opportunity for all Canadians.” The conservative reasoning for “mincome” was simple; by cutting poor people a monthly cheque the federal government would suddenly be freed to dismantle the welfare state. “It’s a proposal to help poor people by giving them money, which is what they need, rather than requiring them to come before a government official, detail all their assets and liabilities … and then be given a handout

  • Five lessons from the failing fight against child poverty

    The new federal government’s pledge to implement the Canada Child Benefit while eliminating the Universal Child Care Benefit and the Canada child tax credit is predicted to help Ontario exceed its child poverty reduction target ahead of schedule. Ontario will need its federal partner to do some of the heavy lifting when it comes to ending chronic homelessness and expanding affordable housing units as well.

  • Hot!

    Ed Broadbent reflects on the child-poverty pledge of 1989

    Broadbent was encouraged by Brian Mulroney’s Progressive Conservative government, which had spent years helping to craft the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted by the General Assembly only one week prior to Canada’s historic vote. But what he hadn’t counted on was the way the North America Free Trade Agreement would usher in a decade of deregulation and cost-cutting… Twenty-five years on, Broadbent is encouraged by the way inequality has again resurfaced in political discourse… democracies have to deal with this issue,” he said.

  • Hot!

    What America Won in the ‘War on Poverty’

    State and local governments have been laboratories of new initiatives—from work and training programs, to partnerships between local businesses and community colleges, to food banks… Government programs defined not by ideology but by flexibility and the ability to help private and local institutions act—not by giving them grants as the War on Poverty did, but via tax incentives that help run programs—that would be welcome innovation, and the best way to continue the legacy of the War on Poverty.

  • Hot!

    Difference between skiving and striving

    June 28, 2012
    or David Cameron this week, the central dilemma was the potential contradiction between two of those “giant evils”, namely want and idleness. How do you provide “cradle-to-grave” wrap-around care to banish forever the shocking poverty Beveridge had witnessed during the Great Depression, without encouraging a minority to swing the lead? How do you help the needy without undermining work incentives among the merely slothful? …The 1845 Scottish Poor Law Act, like its English equivalent, relied on the idea of less eligibility: reducing the numbers entitled to support by making unemployment as unpleasant as possible