As municipal leaders, now more than ever, we have a moral obligation to take immediate action on poverty reduction.Vote MURRANT for District 3
At the risk of insulting past CBRM mayors and councillors – Shame on you!
I’m not going to write a long winded review of our municipal government’s efforts to reduce poverty. Suffice to say, it wasn’t enough. Don’t settle for the usual political rhetoric of, “poverty is a top priority”, because – frankly – that’s bullshit.
CBRM has poverty because past councils have allowed poverty to continue. The families and individuals impacted by poverty in CBRM deserve immediate action. If elected I will move to establish a council committee focused on to ELIMINATING poverty in CBRM.
Understanding the Cause
The first step in addressing poverty is to understand the societal and systematic mechanisms that create poverty.
Economy and Unemployment
Obviously, a lack of jobs will produce higher rates of poverty. The longer a person remains unemployed, the less employable they become. There is little we can do about the global economy, but there are things we can do locally to ensure nobody stays out of the workforce for too long.
Unquestionably, there is a direct correlation between a person’s level of education and their likelihood of experiencing poverty. Higher education doesn’t guarantee a person will not experience poverty – there are other factors to consider – but post secondary education is the the most important indicator of employability.
Poverty and mental illness often go hand in hand. People with preexisting mental illness can find it difficult (or impossible) to work. Even for a person without underlying mental health problems, the stress of living in poverty can trigger acute symptoms which can further exacerbate their situation.
People in rural areas are especially vulnerable. Lack of access to public transit and poor rural internet limits their employment, education, healthcare, and access to support services and resources.
Language and Culture
Although CBRM is touted as being an inclusive and accepting society, it is predominantly English, Caucasian, Christian, and heterosexual. Being of any other demographic group can limit a person’s opportunities – increasing the chances that will experience poverty.
Low income families and individuals in CBRM are struggling to find affordable housing. The conditions of many low cost rentals are deplorable high utility costs for heat and electricity mean that many people have to make the unfathomable choice between food, medication, or warmth.
Poverty can span generations. Children who grow up in poverty are much more likely to experience poverty in adulthood. Breaking this cycle is extremely difficult, but is absolutely essential.
We can’t just snap our fingers and create a thousand permanent, full time jobs. However, we can collaborate with federal and provincial counterparts to create public and private sector employment opportunities for term positions that will help ensure people remain in the workforce with current and portable skills.
CBRM can do more to provide free training and post secondary education for low income individual. There are currently many provincial programs already in place – but navigating the system to access these resources can be a daunting and frustrating task. With little or no capital investment, CBRM can act as a facilitator to assist, guide, and mentor low income individuals through this process.
Healthcare is generally passed off by the municipality to the province. CBRM can take a more active role in the well being of residents – especially where it relates to mental health and addictions. By providing better training for police and fire departments, we better assist people experiencing mental health crisis – to more effectively initiate the care they need. As with facilitating the educational supports, noted above, CBRM can also act in a facilitator capacity to ensure everything possible is being done to address the mental health and well being of low income residents.
The range and frequency of public transit must be expanded and increased. This will help lower income families in rural areas by improving their availability for work, school, and medical appointments. CBRM must also take on a more active role in developing adequate rural high-speed internet – enabling rural residents work and learn without commuting, to access government services online, and to work more closely with education, employment, and healthcare facilitators.
Language and Culture
There is no magic bullet to deal with issues of racism, sexism, misogyny, and homophobia. CBRM has been active on this front and will continue to be a proponent for equality, acceptance, and inclusion of people from all backgrounds.
I wont pretend that I can singlehandedly solve the problem of affordable housing in CBRM. But I will assure you that a) there is a solution and b) it is with CBRM’s control to improve the situation. It must start with a deeper review of the resources available and an audit of the actions taken during the last four years.
All of the efforts noted above will be essential in breaking the parent-child-parent cycle of poverty. CBRM must do a better job of communicating with low income families – letting them know that there are resources and supports available.
It is absolutely inexcusable for any municipal councillor or mayor to downplay their responsibility in the fight against poverty. With focus and planning we can deliver the supports and resources needed to raise the standards for living for all low income families in CBRM.
There is no excuse for allowing poverty to continue.