With so much wealth in the world, why is there so much poverty? Poverty slows the development of all societies, and it’s obvious that we should try to eradicate it, but it still seems intractable. How can we put poverty behind us? And what does our attitude towards poverty and social mobility tell us about who we are? A discussion from the Stratford Festival.

Social justice lawyer Fay Faraday talks about some of the factors around the problem of poverty.

While all provinces have a large percentage of food insecure households, the issue of food insecurity takes a particular toll on Indigenous people in northern Canada. Around 15 per cent of the populations of each of the Maritime provinces struggle with food insecurity, while around 11 per cent of households in each of the “have” provinces (B.C., Alta., Sask., Man., Ont., and Que.) go without adequate access to food.

By contrast, 44.2 per cent of Inuit households in Nunatsiavut, 46 per cent in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region, and 70.2 per cent in Nunavut experience food insecurity.

For two decades, Dr. Miguel Sanchez has been writing about child poverty and each year he’s profoundly disturbed by what he finds.

“Year after year we have been reporting the very same number of children living below the poverty line,” says Sanchez. “It is unacceptable that in a society that claims to cherish children, we have close to 25 per cent of this province’s children living in abject poverty.”

Sanchez, Associate Dean in the Faculty of Social Work, has co-authored a report on child and family poverty in Saskatchewan, with Dr. Garson Hunter, Associate Professor in the Social Work Faculty.

The report using the latest numbers from Statistics Canada (Annual Income Estimates for Census Families and Individuals Final Estimates 2015), states that 24.1 per cent of children in Saskatchewan live below the poverty line, compared to the national average of 17.1 per cent

One in five B.C. youth under the age of 18 were living below the poverty line in 2015, according to the latest child poverty report from First Call BC.

In Williams Lake, the percentage of children living in poverty was 21.1 per cent or 810 out of 3,840 children, while in the entire Cariboo-Chilcotin region, the percentage was 23.2 per cent, the report noted.

Tsilhqot’in National Government Chair Chief Joe Alphonse said the “high” percentage is concerning because where there is poverty a host of other issues will arise.

A former child protection worker, once with the Ministry of Child and Family Development, says, in her experience, Indigenous children are largely being apprehended due to poverty, and their parents are being over policed when trying to reunite with them.

Portia Larlee started her role in communities in north central B.C. in 2015 and said she lasted a year and a half before she quit out of frustration. She said most of her clients were Indigenous.

“It was mostly neglect related to poverty that would put parents at risk of state intervention,” she explained.

The situation of food insecurity—struggling to put food on the table due to financial constraints—is a reality for 3,900 people in Northwestern Ontario.

According to an annual food costing survey conducted by the Northwestern Health Unit, the average cost for a family of four to purchase nutritious food in 2017 is $225.45 per week or $976.20 per month.

While the cost of food has increased 6.5 percent since 2010, the issue runs deeper than just the price of healthy food.

“The real issue is that people with low incomes do not have enough money to pay the rent and all the bills, plus buy healthy food,” says Julie Slack, a registered dietitian with the Northwestern Health Unit.

“Food is a basic human right,” she stressed.

Housing and homelessness are the topics de jour for Nov. 22.

National Housing Day is being recognized across the country, and in Whitehorse, governments and community partners are hosting a Yukon housing forum.

Pauline Frost, the minister responsible for the Yukon Housing Corp., Kwanlin Dün First Nation Chief Doris Bill, Ta’an Kwäch’än Council Chief Kristina Kane, and Mayor Dan Curtis provided the forum’s opening comments.

“It is no secret homelessness and vulnerability issues have been part of this community for some time,” Bill told forum participants at the Westmark Whitehorse Hotel.

“We have all seen it. We have all heard about it in the media. And from all accounts, it has not gotten any better.”

The issue of homelessness in the Yukon is “complex and multifaceted,” she said, and it requires “meaningful solutions” beyond just temporary shelter.