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.