For over 150, the Brunswick Street Mission has provided programs to serve persons living in poverty living at the margins of Halifax and Nova Scotia society. The enduring question for the volunteers and paid staff who make the Mission’s programmes work and for the legions of persons who receive the Mission’s assistance is why? Why does an affluent society like Canada’s have over three million persons living in poverty?
The Citizens for Public Justice, together with Canada Without Poverty, after years of consultation nationally have published Dignity for All: the campaign for a poverty free Canada www.dignityforall.ca . They argue that the principal reason for poverty in Canada is the absence of a national policy coordinated with provincial and municipal programmes.
What does poverty look like in Canada and what does it cost our society? Dignity for All tells us on their website:
- 3. 8 million people including 1.1 million children experienced food insecurity in 2011. Close to 900,000 people rely on food banks each month.
- 200,000 persons are homeless costing Canada over $7 billion per year;
- 1.4 million persons are unemployed in Canada with a 27% increase in part-time or temporary work since 1997.
- 4.8 million people struggle to make ends meet: to pay their rent, feed their families, and address basic needs.
- “Poverty has been consistently linked with poorer health, higher health care costs, greater demands on social and community services, more stress on family members, and diminished school success – not to mention huge costs associated with reduced productivity and foregone economic activity. Yet governments claim a lack of sufficient resources to adequately address the problem all the while paying for the damaging consequences of living in poverty.” (Dignity for All, 11)
Dignity For All recommends a human rights based national policy to eliminate poverty in Canada. “Human rights transform issues of homelessness, poverty and hunger from being solely about economic deprivation to being about equal citizenship and dignity. A human rights approach understands that socio-economic deprivation occurs in large part because of the de-valuing of the rights of the most vulnerable leading to particular policy and program choices and decisions.” (12)
Brunswick Street Mission provides programmes that support persons dealing with many of the outcomes that arise from poverty. Brunswick Street Mission supports the call expressed so clearly in Dignity for All: the campaign for a poverty free Canada. Even with a decision to develop a national coordinated policy to eliminate poverty, we see many years of service ahead while a national policy is implemented. Brunswick Street Mission supports the call.
The Brunswick Street Mission
2107 Brunswick Street
Halifax, Nova Scotia
Canada B3K 2Y4
Phone: 902 423 4605
Fax: 902 423 4838