From the equality of rights springs identity of our highest interests; you cannot subvert your neighbor's rights without striking a dangerous blow at your own. Carl Schurz

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Poverty on the rise in Harper's Canada

New data released by StatsCan shows the national rate for low income earners rose in 2009, for the second straight year, up from 9.2 to 9.6 %. To put that number in context, roughly 3.2 million Canadians,with more 630,000 of those being children, live in poverty.

The story for those living in large urban centres is even worse, not just because they have been hit harder by the decimation of the manufacturing sector but also as is normally the case in tough economic times, people tend to migrate to large cities seeking employment and to access the services that are offered in our larger urban areas.

The report refers to the percentage of people below the low-income cutoff rate. And while StatsCan states that the individual numbers for each metropolitan area on their own may be unreliable, the trends are clear: over the last decade, smaller cities have made progress on poverty,(largely due to migration)  while big urban areas are poverty magnets.

The trends are no surprise to Mike Creek, who works with homeless and impoverished people in Toronto, after spending years in poverty himself.
“If you stick around in a smaller community and you have that shame (of living in poverty), you become stigmatized. So I think it’s easier for someone to pack up their bags and try some place else,” Mr. Creek says.

Vancouver is in the worst shape at 16.9%,Toronto is at 13.2 %, while Montreal sits at 13.1%., all well above the national average. While Eastern Canada overall showed larger rates of poverty than those in the West, Alberta saw it's rate jump from 6 to 10%.

While these numbers are two years old, the situation  hasn't improved any and is in fact worse as we continue to replace well paying stable employment with low paying unstable jobs. The number of Canadians using food banks has skyrocketed the last few years as has the waiting lists for affordable housing both strong indicators of growing need.

So what's Harper's response to this epidemic of poverty? Why he goes to war with labour forcing reduced wages and benefits on Canadians and is embarking on a job cutting spree in the civil service. To top that off he has greatly expanded the foreign temporary workers programme, causing a further drag on employment and compensations rates. The scary part is that his austerity agenda has just begun, so hold on tight folks because we are in for one terrifying journey down the road to ruin.

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