By Derek Kerr, Dundas
Growing income inequality is a big problem in our community.
This fact was driven home to me after reading the Dundas Salvation Army food bank needs more space to service the needs of their growing cliental. Poverty is obviously no longer an inner city problem.
Three million Canadians or one in 11 people currently live in poverty. Across Canada, that number is one in 7 children, and here in Ontario alone, the number of children living in poverty is 383,000.
Cooperation among all levels of government is needed. Fighting poverty should not be a partisan issue. I believe that we all have a responsibility to each other. I agree with the Salvation Army officials here in Hamilton who state: “Everyone should have access to basic rights, such as nutritious food, health care, education and economic opportunity.”
For the past eight months, I have been trying to seek bipartisan support on poverty reduction. I began writing letters and sending emails to all federal party leaders in Ottawa. I also was able to meet with MP David Sweet to discuss my concerns and my inability to arrange a meeting with various staff members in the PMO or the prime minister himself to talk solutions on poverty reduction.
Mr. Sweet was kind enough to deliver a letter to the prime minister on my behalf, but sadly, no response was forthcoming. I also discussed with MPP Ted McMeekin my concerns and he was very supportive of my efforts and indicated the province would require federal participation and support in any initiative, such as a guaranteed minimum income.
Tackling poverty starts with all of us. Canada is the only G8 country that does not have a national housing strategy. When 200,000 of our fellow citizens are affected by homelessness, that concerns me. No Canadian who works full time should have to live in poverty, either. It is time for a minister of poverty reduction at the cabinet table.
After experiencing living in poverty one man said: “Poverty is another country. You have either lived there or you have not.” The time for action is now!