poverty summit

parliament poverty summit 3 poverty summit 4 poverty summit

A glimpse of my notes from a Poverty Reduction Summit.

We’re all in this together.  Fundamentally Canada is a caring culture, but it is increasingly uninformed.  We feel sorry about poverty – it is a foreign landscape to most.  The experience doesn’t resonate.  Sympathy is dangerous.  It marginalizes.  We need empathy, not sympathy.  Empathy is what prompts action and change.  We need justice, not charity.  “Keep your coins.  We need change.”

How do we break the cycle to ensure kids do not grow up and still live in poverty?  Ensure their parents get off assistance.  Pay for childcare, pay adequate benefits, pay transportation – wrap supports around them and provide opportunities.  AND DO THAT FOR A YEAR.

Stop the gatekeeping. Give people what they are asking for.  Get rid of the interviews and intakes for a box of food.  Need food?  Give food.  Need coat?  Give coat.  The same goes for rent, food, clothing, childcare, transportation, education, work – anything that will help families get off social assistance.   Gatekeeping costs a lot of money, frustrates families so much that they give up on the system and turn to undesirable choice-making.  Gatekeeping strips dignity away from people.  Stop making people prove to us that they need something.  Be generous and have more faith in people. If they qualify for social assistance, wouldn’t they qualify for everything else?  Don’t forget the working poor.

Nenshi on Calgary’s initiative – Enough for All:
In a prosperous place, there ought to be enough resources for everyone to live a great life.  SO how do we use the resources we have to end poverty?  Because in a wealthy country, people are still being left behind.  What we are doing, is not working.  We still have poverty.  We are doing good work, but we are not doing it right.  Some of it is government policy.  We need to be brave.  Simple truth – Canadians are all in it together.  We need to be generous in sharing opportunity.  We need to look after each other.  We need to provide social mobility.  Putting people back on their feet helps every single one of us.  It’s about putting people at the centre of everything we do.

“My extraordinary story was ordinary – an ordinary family being extraordinarily provided with extraordinary opportunity.  Everyone deserves to live a great Canadian life. “



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