Sunday, December 15, 2013

Child Poverty: Not My Job?

This week, Canada's Federal Minister of Industry, James Moore (Cons., Port Moody - Westwood - Port Coquitlam, BC) made headlines with - for most people who actually have hearts - should be pretty shocking statements. Especially coming ten days before Christmas.

When asked about record-high levels of child poverty in his province his response was, "Is it my job to feed my neighbour's child? I don't think so." He went on to say that Ottawa's strategy for feeding hungry children was job creation, but that really, it was a provincial issue.

At a event on December 13, Moore claimed that "we've never been wealthier as a country than we are right now. Never been wealthier." He then went on to say that the way poverty is defined is different across the country.

Hmm... really? I would say that going to school with no breakfast and/or lunch, or not having a winter coat or boots in areas where it's necessary, or maybe not even having a bed to sleep in, are pretty much across the board when it comes to definitions. Am I off by much?

Where do I start with this?

First off: Ottawa's strategy for dealing with poverty is job creation. Sounds good in theory. Except how many of those jobs are part-time, minimum wage, and/or temporary? The proliferation of these types of jobs in recent years is a clear indication that this government cares more about the QUANTITY of jobs, rather than the QUALITY of those jobs. They want to crow about the number of jobs created, not how many people are now making a living wage. How does that help poverty levels? Oh, and while we're at it, how does cutting 8,000 Canada Post jobs help poverty?

Second: "we've never been wealthier as a country"??? On WHAT planet is that true? Household debt is at record levels. On a personal level, almost everyone I know is struggling in some way or another. New mortgage regulations are making home ownership a dream that's moving further and further away. Retirement? It's now sounding like a pipe dream.

Third: Yes, Mr. Moore. It IS your job. Just as it's my job, and my neighbour's job, and just like it's everyone else's job. Whatever you may - in your pompous world view - think of their parents, children did not ASK to be born, and they sure as hell didn't ask to be born into poverty. They do NOT deserve to go hungry because you want to punish their parents for whatever transgressions you imagine they have committed by being poor.

When it comes right down to it, Mr. Moore, it's about being a decent human being, and not wanting to see your fellow human beings suffer. How is it you can justify letting children go hungry, while your government spends ridiculous amounts of money on travel expenses, and how about that TEN BILLION each year spent on outside consultants? Bet a bunch of kids could be fed on that...