No time to ignore the poor

Posted on December 4, 2008 in Debates, Governance Debates, Inclusion Debates, Social Security Debates – Opinion/letters – No time to ignore the poor
December 04, 2008

Re:Fight poverty to improve economic and social health, Comment Dec. 2

Thanks to Roy Romanow for his timely reminder that poverty shouldn’t be forgotten in the midst of a global economic crisis.

Mr. Romanow rightly points out that Canadians are paying for the costs of poverty in terms of overall health and health care. Acting on poverty is good for the health of Canadians and our economy.

Taking action is also important now more than ever because it is low-income Canadians who will suffer the most from an economic crisis. They are the first to lose their jobs, and find it harder to get new work. We will see more Canadians slide into poverty unless the inadequacies of social assistance and Employment Insurance are addressed.

We wish to echo Mr. Romanow’s encouragement for poverty reduction strategies at the provincial and federal levels. Not only do these strategies make good economic sense, they will help the millions of Canadians who struggle to live with dignity, experience well-being and participate in their communities.

When all the dust settles in Ottawa, we hope that whoever is leading Canada’s federal government will consider the 1 in 10 Canadians living in poverty and make them a priority.

Karri Munn-Venn, Policy Analyst, Citizens for Public Justice, Ottawa

End of a dream, end of an era, Nov. 29

The disheartening story of Eleanor Taylor, a laid-off worker, should send an icy chill through every Canadian. This is where global free trade has brought us. This emissary of greed was not designed by philanthropists; it was concocted by the corporate world to increase profit margins. It shovels more money into the pockets of the few, and untold misery on to the heads of the many.

Sending Canadian jobs to other countries decimates the domestic job market. Those made-in-Mexico shock absorbers may be cheaper, but jobless Canadians can not afford those – or any others.

We now have whole agrarian communities throughout the world starving because of free trade. Africa could, at one time, feed its population. Cheaper imported food ended local production and local employment. Now the people have neither food, nor the money to buy any.

Where will this end? When Canadians are paid the same wages as Mexicans, and live like Mexicans? That point is arriving faster that you can say “bottom line.”

It is imperative that every nation be able to feed, house and employ its people; and that the whole philosophy of global free trade be abandoned. It is time to recreate a protectionist world in which each self-sufficient country preserves the values, customs, jobs and security of its people. It would be better than selling out the whole population for the wishes of the affluent few.

Peter Weygang, Bobcaygeon

I have been following your series on poverty with interest. One thing about your extensive coverage, however, strikes me as unusual. Never, ever have you indicted in any direct way our ongoing capitalist, or free enterprise system, as the cause of poverty. You’ve blamed just about everything else, from lack of public housing and a low minimum wage, to that tried and true and certainly overdone old saw, “a lack of political will.” You even blame poverty on poverty itself as though that condition was somehow inevitable and ineradicable and can at best only be lessened, but not eliminated. Hence the constant refrain in your articles about “reducing poverty,” but never eliminating it.

The capitalist system, with its insatiable drive for profit, its cut throat competition and total lack of social conscience, is the root cause of our current problems. We don’t have poverty in Canada because of the inability to provide food, clothing, shelter and the necessities of life to our citizens. We have poverty because the capitalist class insists that the procurement of all these things be done in a way that is profitable to them. Social need is subordinated to the need for profit, and as long as that’s the case, poverty in this country will persist.

Greg Swiatek, Toronto

Fund the poverty fight, Editorial Dec. 3

I fully endorse this proposal to fight child poverty across the GTA, and all of Canada for that matter, and I think we should use the $30 million that goes to fund national political parties for this noble purpose. Taxpayer money should go to fight child poverty and other social problems. Tax dollars should never be allotted to political parties for any reason, ever. If the parties need money to run their propaganda campaigns, they will just have to work like everyone else.

Harper was right to have cancelled that funding and he is wrong to have reneged on his plan. I urge him to revisit his plan and put the $30 million toward eradicating child poverty. I’ll bet the Liberals, NDP, Bloc and Green Party wouldn’t have the guts to bring the government down on that score.

Laurie Thomas, Brampton

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