Legal Education and Outreach Coordinator, Canada Without Poverty
Michèle Biss is the Legal Education and Outreach Coordinator at Canada Without Poverty. She holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts with a specialization in Religious studies, with a minor in English as well as a Law degree from the faculty of Law both at University of Ottawa. She has extensive professional experience working for marginalized groups through casework, research and community legal education. Her particular areas of interest include support for women, persons with disabilities, recent immigrants and persons living in poverty. She is a human rights lawyer and was called to the Ontario bar in 2014.
The impact of poor Internet access goes far beyond one's ability to watch Netflix or check their Twitter feed to stay up-to-date. The lack of high speed and adequate bandwidth means limited access for Nunavummiut to pursuing everyday practical tasks: online banking, tax filing services, job hunting and applications, and email.
For a poverty reduction strategy to be successful, it takes time, political momentum, dedicated resources and an understanding that governments must consider the lived realities of poverty in every single policy decision they make.
We have a Prime Minister who calls himself a feminist -- a word previously taboo even among women's groups -- we have a gender-balanced federal cabinet where women hold some of the highest positions of power in the country, and the appointment of new Canadian Senators who are some of the leading feminist advocates in the country. So, are we there? Have we achieved equality for women in Canada? The answer, unsurprisingly, is not yet.
It seems that far too often the government and people here at home are more willing to rally around civil and political rights violations. Bill C-51, for example, drew waves of protest across the country. Compare that to how Canadians responded to the squalid conditions faced by 4.9 million people living in poverty. But rights are so important to the way that we understand poverty in Canada. Rights put people at the centre of policy decisions that affect them -- they bring dignity and humanity back to the conversation.
It's nowhere to be seen: human rights being used to address poverty in Canada. Human rights are a key tool in poverty reduction work in Canada, placing the most marginalized at the centre of policy -- but in communities across the country, it seems as though governments are not connecting the dots.