Monday, November 26, 2007

A blind man on the corner said it's simple, like flipping a coin, don't matter which side it lands on if it's someone else's dime

Photo courtesy of The Blackbird on Flickr

The headline seemed to scream at me this morning from my list of feeds: Child poverty rates unchanged in nearly 2 decades: report. Here we are in Canada in 2007 and he rate of child poverty is the same as it was in 1989. It has been eighteen years, and despite a 50 per cent increase in the size of the economy, the child poverty rate remains unchanged at 16.8 per cent when income was measured before income taxes; that means that one in six children in Canada lives in poverty. Not only does that absolutely break my heart, but it also makes me feel sick to my stomach.
I wasn't surprised when I clicked over to Matt's blog, knowing that he feels the same way that I do about this cause, to find that he had already posted about the article. Go here to read this thoughts and the discussion that has followed.
I have continued to be astounded, especially recently, not only by how many people are absolutely ignorant with regards to this issue but also by the number of people who turn a blind eye to it all together. In June, the UN released a report referring to Vancouver as a "scarred paradise."
The report describes Vancouver as a "breathtakingly gorgeous" city with a sizzling economy."But there is trouble in paradise. And nowhere is it more evident than in the Downtown Eastside -- a two-kilometre-square stretch of decaying rooming houses, seedy strip bars and shady pawnshops," states the UN agency."Worst of all, it is home to a hepatitis C (HCV) rate of just below 70 per cent and an HIV prevalence rate of an estimated 30 per cent -- the same as Botswana's."
A city with staggering wealth and soul-crushing poverty is far from unusual in the world's largest cities, the report notes."What makes the Downtown Eastside so different is that it is located in one of the most prosperous cities in one of the world's most prosperous countries."The UN Population Fund says next year, for the first time in history, half the world's population -- 3.3 billion people -- will live in urban areas. The number will swell to almost five billion by 2030.The report calls for pre-emptive action to deal with lack of housing, employment, good governance, and environmental stewardship.

To say that this is a sad facet of modern Canadian life doesn't even begin to capture the harsh reality. This is a national travesty and it needs to be addressed.


Don said...

It really is a devastating reality.

Scott said...

I don't think it's just Canada though. The wealth gap seems to stretch to pretty much every developed country at this point.

Jennifer Stoddart said...

True's just that Canada is "my backyard."