Every year around this time theres a flurry of studies, reports and media stories about the state of poverty in Canada, especially child poverty. We are told that as many as one-seventh of Canada's kids live in poverty. And the accompanying descriptions of the predicament of those children paint a picture of hunger and of serious deprivation.
Its hard to blame Canadians for believing the great myth of income stagnation given the continuous stream of reports pointing to the low growth in average incomes over the past several decades.
The perennial debate regarding income inequality ebbs and flows but never disappears. For a variety of reasons, including the backlash against corporate bailouts in 2009 (well deserved), the election and re-election of Barack Obama, and a deluge of reports spanning the political spectrum, income inequality has vaulted to the front of the publics concerns. Unfortunately, the discussion of inequality is almost always fundamentally misstated because it ignores income mobility.
The poor will always be with you, remarked a certain carpenter from Nazareth about two millennia ago, and whose life is remembered this time of year and at Christmas. That statement has long been truethe reasons for poverty are legion, and thus an absolute end to poverty is likely beyond the grasp of imperfect human beings. But that doesnt mean most poverty cannot be reduced nor its pernicious effects alleviated.
In fact, tremendous progress has been made in reducing poverty worldwide, including in the past two hundred years in particular.
B.C. welfare payments are adequate; For the most part, they line up with basic needs; where they don't, for employable singles, there is a reason
Surrey MLA Jagrup Brar's attempt to spend January living on the $610 welfare rate for a single employable individual has succeeded in getting people talking about the adequacy of welfare. Brar's actions are in response to a challenge issued by Raise the Rates, a coalition of community groups that wants to double welfare benefits. But despite all the publicity Brar has received, the reality is that for most recipients, welfare is adequate and raising benefits would only create further welfare dependency.