International Day for the Eradication of Poverty – October 17

With the statistics showing that approximately 15% of Canadians still live in poverty, we know we have a long way to go to eliminate it. As public sector workers, NSGEU members know first-hand how difficult it is to live in poverty because they work with those in need each day. We have members who work in public housing, in social work, in community health, in mental health, in education, just to name a few. Our members know the health, and social costs that go along with living in poverty and work hard to support individuals and families each day.

As a union, we have donated to Christmas Daddies, convention delegates have again and again pledged annual support to Feed Nova Scotia, and the Human Rights Committee will be launching their Annual Sock It To Poverty Campaign near the end of October.

We are proud to do our part as individuals and as a union to support those who are living in poverty. We were pleased to see a provincial poverty strategy that was released in April, 2009, the increases made to the minimum wage, and the development of the first housing strategy, and the first mental health strategy in 2013.

The Fairness Express Bus is crisscrossing the Maritimes bringing a message that is relevant when addressing the question of poverty. There are four main issues we should be paying attention to. If we can address these four issues, we will have less poverty and a “fairer” society with regard to the economy.

  1. Good jobs that pay a living wage.
  2. A fair tax system that taxes those who have the most will give more to those who have the least.
  3. Keep or enhance public services: This includes public education, public health care, and public social services. Strengthening public services  mean healthier communities throughout Nova Scotia. They also ensure that everybody has an equal shot at a prosperous and productive life.
  4. Protect Labour Rights: Unions ensure decent wages, safe workplaces, and secure livelihoods. They also foster the greater good, leading the charge for things like Medicare, the Canada Pension Plan, and respect for the basic human rights of women, minorities, people who are gay, lesbian, or transgendered, and people with disabilities.

Together, we can continue to improve the incomes and the living conditions for those living in poverty in Nova Scotia.

Some related stories and information:

Poverty increases in contentious National Household Survey released September 16, 2013

The Survey showed that those living in the poorest neighbourhoods are disproportionately visible minorities, immigrants and single-parents and that women continue to earn less than men, even though they achieve higher levels of education.

There are also major concerns about the quality of the National Household Survey as a result of the cancellation of the long form census form.

The survey provides data on a host of social issues from how many people ride the bus, to how many people live in poverty.  Much consternation was expressed with the release of the National Survey on the basis that its results cannot be compared with previous census numbers because the methodology and instrument used to collect the data this time round was different, thanks to the 2009 elimination of the mandatory long form.

As a result, there is no sense of the trends in the country or how things are evolving.  This is, indeed, problematic.  The gathering of this type of statistical information – at considerable cost to taxpayers, no doubt – should at least be available as a yardstick to measure progress and as a valid and reliable tool to hold governments accountable.

4.8 million people or close to 15% live in poverty in Canada

While the National Survey may be flawed, if nothing else it provides us with one more reality check about the persistence of poverty in this country:  the Survey reveals that 4.8 million people or close to 15 per cent of the population in Canada is living in poverty – that is, struggling to pay the rent, find decent employment and access nutritious and adequate food.  Fifteen per cent of our population is poor and yet Canada is one of the richest countries in the world.  And who is suffering the most? The Survey showed that those living in the poorest neighbourhoods are disproportionately visible minorities, immigrants and single-parents and that  women continue to earn less than men, even though they achieve higher levels of education.

Canada Without Poverty (CWP) pushes forward on agenda to eliminate poverty

Canada Without Poverty (CWP) doesn’t need to know much more than this to reinvigorate our resolve. We are ready to push and to push hard to ensure that the voices of poor people are heard across the country and real solutions are implemented. We are renewing efforts to have politicians of all political stripes commit, through legislative action, to addressing Canada’s most significant and pressing human rights problem: poverty.

So, while Parliamentarians may not be working on the Hill right now, rest assured, CWP is toiling away just down the road!  Recently we’ve appeared in print media rallying for a living wage in the Report on Business in the Globe and Mail and on television speaking about the effects of poverty on health, and responding to the National Household Survey.You can find out more about the work CWP does and what will be ahead in the coming months by visiting its website.

(reprinted from

If you are interested in talking about or learning more about income inequality, please check the location of our favorite “Big Green Bus” or the “Fairness Express” here which is continuing to tour Atlantic Canada raising the awareness of the causes and effects of income inequality.

Facts about poverty

  • Poverty costs Canada $72-84 billion – for Ontarians this means between $2,299 and $2,895 every year, and for British Columbians, this equates to over $2,100 each year.  (Ontario Association of Food Banks report and BC Cost of Poverty report)
  • In 2012, a record 882,000 Canadians used food banks each month, the highest level of food bank usage ever (Food Banks Canada), in 2011 the number was only slight lower at 851,014 – which is still 26% above the 2008 levels (Hunger Count 2011).
  • 3.1 million households pay more than 30% of their income on housing making them housing insecure, and 150,000 – 300,000 are visibly homeless, while 450,000 – 900,000 Canadians represent the ‘hidden’ homeless(Wellesley Institute, Precarious Housing in Canada Report, 2010)
  • McMaster University study (2010) finds a 21-year difference in life expectancy between the poorest neighbourhood and the wealthiest neighbourhood in Hamilton, Ontario.
  • $1 invested in early years (before the age of 6) saves $9 in future spending on healthwelfare and justice systems (Report on Public Health in Canada).
  • Out of 25 developed countries, Canada ties for last place for failing to attain nine of UNICEF’s ten benchmark indicators of quality and access to early childhood education and care (ECEC) provision.
  • Poverty costs the Canada`s health care system $7.6 billion per year (Ontario Association of Food Banks)
  • Racialized groups and recent immigrants are more likely to be in poverty, have low paying jobs or be unemployed compared to the non-racialized Canadian population. (Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives & the Wellesley Institute)
  • 1 in 3, or 33%, low-income children had at least one parent who worked full time throughout the year in 2008, and still lived in poverty (Statistics Canada, 2008)
  • Seven provinces have a poverty strategy (NL, NB, NS, QC, ON, MB, PE), and four provinces/territories are in the process of creating a poverty plan (YK, NT, NU, AB).

Poverty Reduction Strategy

The Nova Scotia government released its Poverty Reduction Strategy on April 3, 2009.

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