I dream of a Canada where citizens actively seek social justice. In the country of my dreams, we would value the common humanity of all, ensure that everyone has what they need to live a socially acceptable life, and provide social, material, educational and political conditions in which everyone has opportunities to flourish. There are far too many people living in poverty in our wealthy nation. Poverty stunts us, limiting the possibilities to achieve all that we could if we had a fair chance. It excludes us from fully participating in everyday life and in full citizenship. It makes us sick and causes us to die too soon. All of us lose out when some of us live in poverty. Let’s start a new conversation about poverty in Canada and demand that our governments put an end to it.
Economic analyses show that any investment in reducing or eliminating poverty would more than double the return on investment over the longer term. Yes, that’s right—for every dollar we spend to eliminate poverty, we will save at least $2 in health care, education and the justice system. The cost of poverty includes approximately 20% of all health care expenses, so fighting poverty is a very effective means to save health care costs.
Poverty is not a popular topic in the Canadian media, among politicians, or anyone else it seems. According to the advocacy group, Canada without Poverty, Canada’s poverty rate in 2011 ranged between 10 and 20 percent, or between 3.5 and 7 million people, depending on how it was measured. A UNICEF report card ranks Canada ranks middle to low end of wealthy countries for child poverty, hardly a statistic to be proud of.
People who live in poverty struggle every day with meeting basic needs for food, clothing and shelter. They have higher rates of poor health and illness, including mental illness, and live shorter lives. They are more likely to be homeless or living in unsafe, overcrowded, or unaffordable housing. They are excluded from many of the normal activities of life in Canada. Childhood poverty can have devastating consequences for development and adult health and success. As the title of this website suggests it is no way to live. And it is completely unnecessary that so many live in poverty in a country as wealthy as ours.
There are many good reasons to eliminate poverty in this country, from economic to human rights to moral ones. Why don’t we? This website hopes to contribute to a new discussion of poverty in Canada, one that features stories of people who live in poverty and analyses of poverty, from discussions of stereotypes of poverty to social policies that could effectively eliminate poverty. Please join the conversation. And stay tuned for the release of a documentary film that will take up the themes you’ll find here.