This story originally appeared in North End Breezes http://www.northendbreezes.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/October-2015-NEB-publisher-file-small-FINAL.pdf)
Last month community groups across Canada set out to make poverty an election issue in the October 19th federal election.
Their campaign aims to help Canadians better understand what poverty costs us. It will encourage voters to ask local candidates and political parties about their plans to end poverty in Canada.
The Windsor-Essex local poverty reduction strategy developed the campaign concept.
Canada has been called to take immediate action to address poverty by the United Nations, the Canadian Senate, and Committees of the House of Commons. In spite of this, there is still no national plan to eradicate or reduce poverty.
“Over four and a half million Canadians have been left behind. National action to end poverty must be a priority for all political parties," says Tom Cooper, Director of the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction.
It is hard to believe that in a country as rich as Canada 4.8 million people are fighting to make ends meet. That is one in seven of our citizens living in poverty.
Three Quick Facts about Poverty in Canada
1. Poverty hurts our health care system.
It costs our health care system $7.6 billion a year to not address the symptoms of poverty. That figure comes from a study done in 2008 by the Metcalf Foundation. More recently, a University of Toronto study of more than 67,000 Ontario adults found that food insecure households spend 121% more in health care costs than other households.
We’re treating symptoms of an issue that we could address directly.
2. Poverty is bad for the economy.
Jobs that are part-time, precarious or low-paying are increasing. In July, for example, Statistics Canada reported that our economy lost 17,300 full-time jobs. More part time ones were added (23,900). However, with decreasing earnings from employment, how can people put money back into the economy? Many barely have enough to pay for rent, childcare or food.
3. Child Poverty Rates in Canada are shameful.
Over 1.3 million children live in poverty in Canada. That's 1 in 5 children who don't get a fair start. Moreover, new research by American neuroscientists published in Nature Magazine showed that the stress of poverty can have significant effects on a child's brain development.
What You can Do?
• Learn more about the campaign by visiting VotetoEndPoverty.ca
• Put a Will Vote to End Poverty sign on your lawn or in your window. See http://hamiltonpoverty.ca/vote-to-end-poverty-lawn-signs-now-available/ to get one.