Regional Green Party Candidates continue to speak out on issues of poverty as the election approaches
Waterloo - As the other parties have asked us to focus doggedly on the “economy” for the past 11 weeks, an enormous and pressing issue has gone unnoticed - the growing inequality between haves and have nots in Canadian society. The Green Party is dedicated to creating sustainable methods that ensure that no one goes without: without food, without shelter, without medicine.
While Canada is often regarded as a compassionate and accepting society, it remains an astonishing fact that 1 in 7 (or 4.8 million) people in Canada currently live in poverty. There are dire consequences for those who live in poverty with a recent McMaster University study showing a 21-year difference in life expectancy between the poorest and wealthiest in our community.
The effects of poverty span the full gamut of society. Children in poverty often do not have enough to eat, while their parents work multiple jobs just to try to make ends meet. Seniors struggle to afford even the basic medications and those suffering from mental illness simply fall through the cracks.
“For decades Canada has had a convoluted and accusatory system of social welfare aimed at helping many citizens who face issues of poverty. But at its root this system seems to accuse the recipients of social assistance of potentially bilking the system. Furthermore, putting in place piecemeal solutions that only attend to specific issues is simply not adequate, because the need is so great. Canada needs a more holistic approach." says Green Party Candidate Richard Walsh. “The Green Party and I propose a guaranteed livable income for all that allows everyone to live in dignity and be fully included in society.,” Walsh concluded.
Richard Walsh, a co-founder of the local action group Alliance Against Poverty points out that the “As the Canadian Medical Association stated in August, by eliminating poverty, a basic annual income would improve individuals’ health and mental health and save the health care system billions of dollars.”.
As other parties urge us to “strengthen the middle class” The Green Party highlights the need to address the widening income gap in Canada and the largely ignored issue of poverty. It should be unacceptable to all Canadians that 1 in 8 Canadian households struggle to put food on the table. We should be outraged to learn that 3.3 million Canadians are precariously housed, living in unaffordable, substandard, or overcrowded conditions.
The challenge facing us is a complex one that requires complex solutions. If elected, Greens would push to institute the following policies to tackle poverty head on:
• Institute a Guaranteed Livable Income.
• Develop a national Pharmacare program.
• Implement a National Housing Strategy based on Housing First principles.
• Implement a National Seniors Strategy to assist our aging population in maintaining their good health and staying in their own homes longer.
Poverty and a widening gap between the richest and poorest in our society affects us all. Lifting people out of poverty benefits us all.