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OPINION: Elected officials out of touch

Mary Boyd displays the report card on child and family poverty on P.E.I. produced in November 2015 in this Guardian file photo. Boyd is director of the MacKillop Centre for Social Justice.

(Jim Day/ Guardian File Photo)
Mary Boyd displays the report card on child and family poverty on P.E.I. produced in November 2015 in this Guardian file photo. Boyd is director of the MacKillop Centre for Social Justice. (Jim Day/ Guardian File Photo) - Jim Day

Increasing allowances for seniors in long-term care commendable, but no help for people living in poverty

BY JUDY BARRETT

GUEST OPINION

What is wrong with Tina Mundy and the Liberal government -defending their inaction on reducing poverty in P.E.I. by promising another action strategy in 2018?

Last week, Ms. Mundy is telling us that she wants input from all Islanders on reducing poverty so as to “craft” a new strategy for the future. Seems more like a new buzzword to further delay making any concrete changes.

Her example of how this government is tackling poverty by improving targeted programs and services for low income Islanders is really an example of how out of touch our elected officials are.

Increasing social services comfort allowances for seniors in long term care may be commendable but in no way does it help someone living in poverty. Seniors in long-term care may find uses for any extra financial help they receive but they are not the individuals most stakeholders would identify as being poor and needy.

Families living on social assistance in inadequate housing and not enough money to buy food and clothing are those in need. Seniors living in their own homes and can’t afford to heat them or fix them are those in need. Families who live with members suffering from physical and mental disabilities and can’t afford medication or medical care are those in need.

Minimum wage workers with families to support and unable to keep up with increasing costs of basic needs are those in need. All these people struggle daily to make decisions on how best to spend the little money they do have.

If we look at the past 10-15 years of Liberal government we have had numerous costly and lengthy strategies/reports developed that have included all kinds of stakeholders with an abundance of knowledge and ideas.

Do Ms. Mundy and the Liberal government not have access to all this information that is already available and equally as valid to poverty today as it was 5-10 years ago?

The previous Minister of Community Services, Valerie Docherty also did her share of producing action plans to reduce poverty but apart from a few small increases in social service allowances for food and rent, little was done to improve the lives of those in need. Government even acknowledged that the allowances given by Social Services for food and clothing were well below the actual cost of these items.

Why should I or any other stakeholder waste our time talking to government action committees when there is no action ever taken that truly addresses the problems of poverty?

What is the reality, is that we spend more money on talking about change then actually implementing it. This wasted money could have been put to better use feeding families and keeping them warm.

- Judy Barrett, Charlottetown, is a member of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, an anti-poverty group, which has previously provided feedback to government

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