It is essential that poor people are not the scapegoat for the problem of our public system. As a society we need to stop blaming the victims of poverty for their circumstances. But rather focus on solution that causes poverty.
With youth unemployment and underemployment remaining at stubbornly high levels, Canada must build on the success of its college system. In Ontario, one of the most significant changes that government can make is to expand the range of career-specific degree programs at colleges.
Playing the blame game won't help the 371,000 children currently living in poverty in Ontario. It's time for the Liberals to look in the mirror. The money is there. But the Wynne and McGuinty governments have chosen political self-interest over reducing childhood poverty.
Teachers do not hold the purse strings to public funds in this province. Teachers cannot pass legislation. Teachers cannot ignore Supreme Court rulings without risking jail. The government can and has done all these things. It is the government who can end this dispute.
Poverty, neglect, family violence and substance abuse can expose children to toxic stress that changes their bodies and increases their likelihood of having many problems later in life, including early pregnancy, heart disease, asthma and cancer. Researchers understand these processes well.
How is it that people with higher wages deserve an increase, but those at the bottom do not? It is hard to believe the Panel suggests that people living in poverty, unable to pay rent, buy food, or heat their house are reaching a 'minimum standard of living'.
By all accounts, this year's budget is all about "keeping the powder dry" for the "big event" in 2015. Next year's budget will be highly politicized, meant to set the stage for the general election in October. That 2015 budget will offer targeted, carefully designed tax cuts designed to secure electoral victory. Budget 2014 is merely laying the groundwork. But what will this budget direction cost?
Mass unemployment is a waste of people's energy and ingenuity. Imagine what the 1.8 million out-of-work Canadians could accomplish if they were mobilized to develop green energy sources or to expand mass transit and childcare services.
While the fantasy surrounding Santa can be a magical experience for a child, how to deal with the consequences of explaining "how a man with infinite resources has left you with less than your peers" can become complicated and send out the wrong message about the child's worth if Santa's yearly rewards don't add up to those of their elementary counterparts.
In 1989 the federal government voted unanimously on a motion to end child poverty by the year 2000. Nothing happened. In 2009, another motion was unanimously passed in the House of Commons that called for the development of a national poverty strategy. Again nothing happened. Actions speak louder than words, and in this case there is deafening silence.
Canada needs to step back and do a serious rethink of the training and employment support system. As part of the Canada Job Grant proposal, Minister Kenney has argued we need to "stop doing training for the sake of training." He's right. Yet we don't really know yet what works and what does not work.
According to the NHS, in 2011 4.8 million people were living with low income, with the majority of these individuals concentrated in Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver. Let's put it another way. Almost 5 million people had an income of $14k or less in 2011, 13 per cent of which received income solely from government transfers.
In their 2012 Report, Food Banks Canada stated that in March 2012 alone, almost 900,000 Canadians turned to food banks. Canada needs to tackle hunger directly, rather than continue to pay out year after year for its long-term consequences. Hunger is toxic for those living through it, and it is harmful to Canada as a whole.
Time and again, those of us barely scraping by on precarious appointments in the service industry are fed the same exhausted occupational rhetoric: "Prosperity in the 'new economy' requires flexibility and sacrifice on the part of the labour force." Translation -- welcome to the precarious labour trap.
It is time to rethink government's role in reducing poverty and unemployment. Take, for example, the Working Income Tax Benefit (WITB), which is supposed to help Canadians in low-paying jobs keep more of their employment income. Essentially, the program is a disincentive to work.
Extreme poverty is the most severe form of poverty -- in Canada, it equates to living off just $1.75 a day for everything in life. This tiny dollar amount has to pay for food, housing, medicine, water and education costs -- all for less than the money we would spend on a single bus fare or a morning coffee.