Poverty

Poverty is a word with wide implications.

Poverty is the experience of not being able to reasonably supply the necessities for one’s life and one’s family’s lives.

In a monetized world, it means not being able to pay for things that need to be paid for.  This leads to stress and poorer health, making it even harder to get out of poverty.

There are many causes for poverty in Canada.  Events in one’s life… Sudden job loss…  Traumatic experience…  Loss of a loved one… Mental illness…  The list of causes goes on.

While the federal and provincial governments have programs attempting to lessen poverty, and we need their programs and continued cooperation, the reality is that people in poverty are neighbours living in our midst – in Dartmouth and in the HRM.  We need to help.  The buck stops here.

What can the HRM do to help our residents in poverty?  Certain ideas come to mind.

  • Creation of a body to help our NGO’s identify needs and coordinate with each other as to how to best meet these needs.
  • Work with low-rental landlords to ensure their properties are safe, and to help landlords in the cases where safety is a concern.
  • Review and update safety laws for all rental properties and consider a possible required inspection interval to ensure safety compliance.

It is beyond our cities mandate and ability to cure all the various causes for poverty in our community.  But it is not beyond our capability to work hard to find creative ways to first make their lives safer, and second to help them find more meaningful and fulfilling ways to interact with the wider community.

At the same time as we do this, we should be working with our federal and provincial counterparts hand in hand with community groups and members of our community living in poverty in order to come up with a more far reaching and prudent long term plan to stamp out poverty in this first world country Canada.

 

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2 comments on “Poverty”

  1. Cathy Reply

    Do you see rent control as part of the solution to this problem? I have a concern that our councillors traditionally have been closely involved with developers and large property management companies, and that they are not motivated to push for rent control. If rent control would be under provincial jurisdiction, what would be the role of a municipal council to advocate for it?

    • admin Reply

      I do not know that rent control is the correct answer. I prefer to aim toward a certain percentage of locked in “affordable” (with affordable well defined) units in new developments. Coming to a decision on rent control will involve a great deal more deep research, and I think this should be a decision that includes the voices of others in our community.

      Here are a couple links that touch on the difficulties:

      http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa-274.html
      http://www.economist.com/blogs/economist-explains/2015/08/economist-explains-19

      There are issues in our present society that cannot be resolved solely by our municipal government. I think it is a terrible thing that members of our society can work 50 hours a week and still struggle just to attain basic needs of food, housing, and clothing. A guaranteed income supplement (which would likely have to be initiated at the federal level) is likely part of a good solution. This topic has been discussed several times already by some of our major political parties. Perhaps after we move to a proportionate representation electoral system, there will be enough voices in Parliament with a social conscience to be able to make some movement towards this goal.

      Until then (and perhaps even continuing after), rather than a fully locked-in rent controlled municipality, I think it is likely more prudent to ensure a portion of our rental units be available at locked in controlled rates (and DISPERSED in our community to avoid “ghetto-ization”) and leave other units open to free market forces.

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