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Friday, June 26, 2009

Poverty, Rising Unemployment and Cuts to School Meal programs

The links below are to a few stories that have been in the Daily News of late.

I am convinced that Nanaimo is the best place to live in BC but it has always had high levels of unemployment and poverty. Part of this is the high number of part time jobs, almost half the jobs in Nanaimo, large proportion of single parent families and growing numbers of seniors living in the community. What once was a resource based economy with decent wages, has moved to more of a service based economy with lower paying jobs and part time positions.

For a number of years the economy was doing well but a result was increased property values, a shrinking rental market and increased rents for what little was available. One standard when looking at determinants of poverty is paying more than 30% of ones income towards shelter. Approximately 53 percent of renters in Nanaimo, as well as many low-income homeowners in Nanaimo, are paying far more than 30 percent of their income towards rent. When you look at those on income assistanc and pensions that percentage rises to more than 50% of their income going towards shelter.

With the economy spirally ever downwards we have seen major businesses, as well as smaller business, shut their doors. The results have been huge numbers of people applying for both Employment insurance and Income Assistance. Food Bank and other free meal service use has skyrocketed. Through it all the commitment of volunteerism and donations to services has not waned, another reason that this is such a great community, its people. I am still convinced this is the best place to live and my commitment to making it even better has not waned.

Empty coffer, hungry kid: Funding cut for school meal programs Published: Thursday, June 25, 2009

While harsh I believe my comment below, I love the comment option on the interweb version of the Daily New, is appropriate. Check out the strory for comments from others.

"This is just another slap in the face of those least able to make ends meet in our disintegrating economy. The two most important things to move families and individuals forward are safe affordable housing and access to food. Many families and individuals rely on food programs in the schools, and in the community, so they can afford the exorbitant rents caused by the past economic boom. Cuts forced on the school district by gluttonous members of government will no doubt result in BC maintaining the highest child poverty rates in the country. When the government returns from its extended paid vacation and if they propose another excessive raise in pay they should be taken out by the citizenry, tarred and feathered."

Unemployment lines grow longer Published: Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Vacancies are up, but so are rents Published: Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Welfare rolls jump again Published: Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The following was submitted as a letter to the editor today and could apply to all of the above though I wrote it in response to the first story.

To the Editor;
Poverty is not a choice but an unfortunate reality for many in Nanaimo and British Columbia . Food Bank and Community meal program use is rising at such a rate that many programs are being overwhelmed and with little government funding are being forced to rely more and more on the very communities and people affected by government policy and the economic downturn.

Whether 30, 50, 80 or 180, those students who relied on meal programs in schools, funded through Community Link, will be adversely affected. There can be no doubt that losing access to meal programs of any kind will put added strain on families already stretched to the very limit of meeting just the basic needs of food and housing. Nanaimo is seeing huge increases in the numbers of people having to apply for income assistance and employment insurance, a fact that is likely to get worse as more businesses lay off employees in order to survive or simply close their doors because they can’t.

With the dubious distinction of the highest Child Poverty rate in Canada 6 consecutive years from 2002 - 2007, my guess that 2008 will surely be the 7th, decisions like the School District of Nanaimo will no doubt nudge BC towards its seventh consecutive year. It is high time the Liberal Government started providing adequate funding to school districts as well as increasing the minimum wage to at least allow peoples income to rise above the poverty line. The government of BC should be ashamed of a track record that has simply furthered the widening gap between the financially able and financially challenged.


Chilled said...

Children in need MUST be fed. Children raised in families where mom and dad are blowing the budget on pot and booze must be put in foster care. Time for further investigation. I have no doubt there are more than a few irresponsible parents sending junior to school knowing he will be fed, expecting him to be fed, even though they CAN provide, but just can't be bothered as doing so will cut into their recreational activities.

......... Gord Fuller ......... said...

While no one doubts there is abuse of the system I think most can agree that it is by far the minority doing so. That being said most safety nets are by far too inadequate. When a single person or a family are having to spend most of their time trying to9access food or worrying about accomodation it can be extremely hard to move forward.

The system is effectively designed to provide just enough for people to survive and keep having to come back for more. This is Government Poverty Pimping, provide just enough that people still need the service justifying the need to keep the service going.