In these past two years, I have attended the public meetings co-ordinated by the MacKillop Center for Social Justice and Poverty Bytes. During this period of time, I have noticed that the government has done very little regarding the problem of poverty in P.E.I. There are many other voices that have attended these meetings representing as much as 26 organizations on the Island that are very much concerned with the increasingly serious problem of poverty in P.E.I.
It is quite clear to us that there is a lack of any effective and long-term sustainable measures that are being put into place to address the growing amount of poverty. I continue to wonder if there is any will to deal with this real and actual injustice in our community. Just lately we were informed of the end of assistance for heating oil in Summerside. We are told that there are a growing amount of persons having to rely on soup kitchens and food banks.
A research paper entitled, ‘The Cost of Poverty on Prince Edward Island' presented to the Ghiz government in 2011, clearly indicates that we have the highest rate of persons living in poverty in Canada. In this document, researched by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, the federal and provincial governments are told that they must address the root causes of poverty.
Premier Ghiz has promised us that there would be public hearings to gather input, especially from those persons that suffer the debilitating effects of poverty in our home province. We have heard nothing from him in this regard. Is there an unwillingness to listen to those voices?
We are invited by the government to offer our ideas in creating a 2013 budget that will address job creation, health issues but we do not see anything in addressing the high cost of poverty in P.E.I. Why not provide a forum to hear from those persons affected by poverty? Would this not give the government a truer picture of the face of poverty?