you're reading...


A Poverty Free Ontario… is it possible?

The Social Muse – Michelle Gratton

Unfortunately, there will always be some people who truly believe the notion that people who live in poverty are considered to be “lazy,” “addicts,” and “system abusers.” Just repeating this sentence, I almost feel like my mouth should be washed out with soap!

The truth is, no matter how you break down the facts and numbers those living in poverty or below the poverty line; which according to Stats Canada is an annual income of just under $18,000 (before tax) for a single person in Cornwall, there is no way the notion could be deemed accurate. Here’s why…

Living in “deep poverty” is a term used to generally describe individuals and families in receipt of social assistance who either may or may not be able to work, and generally experience chronic cycles of hunger and hardship when the money provided runs out and is allegedly supposed to meet one’s basic needs. For example, a single adult on Ontario Works currently receives approximately $592 per month. Since numbers are where the money is at, at $592 per month; a whole $11,000 below the poverty line, this would be “equivalent to working full-time for $3.70 per hour” (Posen, July 2011).

“Working poor” is a term used to describe an individual who works full year, yet is living below the poverty line. Inexcusably, you will even find several households with two adults working full year still falling short of the poverty line. A full-time worker today earning minimum wage for the whole year still lives more than approximately $5,600 below the poverty line. Another false notion about people who live in poverty that too commonly exists is that the poor are considered “unintelligent.” Although an education is very important, a report released in October 2010 stated that over 50 per cent of low-income families in Canada had completed some post-secondary studies and 45 per cent of the unemployed in Canada had completed a post-secondary education.

Poverty is a great threat to overall community health and immediate poverty eradication measures need to be taken as the excuses for accepting persistent poverty are no longer credible. Poverty eradication is possible and means pursuing the lowest possible levels of poverty in the industrialized world we live in, both in incidence and in depth. Simply, if you work full year, full-time you should not be living in poverty. If people can’t work then there needs to be a set standard of dignity that supports all people to be able to live a quality of life beyond discrimination and despair. The idea of blaming the reasons for poverty on the behaviours of the poor is no longer tolerable. Taking a structural approach today and examining the adequacy of basic living conditions for all is what is required.

For more information, please visit www.povertyfreeontario.ca



No comments yet.

Post a Comment

Follow PFO