I'd like to share this information which is the outcome of my own study as an effort to help me understand the issues as they apply to my personal situation.
Long story short, I'm one of many former Public Safety Workers in Canada who's landed now in poverty as an outcome of systemic weakness in our social safety net.
The following is a collection of my own thoughts on poverty, with some ideas about where to turn to get ourselves informed in such a way as to encourage needed change:
In advance of the town hall, I shared this recently in response to another engagement:
June 1st, 2017 Ms. Michelle Mungall, MLA, Nelson/Creston Mr. Wayne Stetski, MP, Kootenay/Columbia
Ms. Mungall: Mr. Stetski:
An opportunity was today made available to Canadians to participate in a survey on way to development of public-policy on Food in Canada. I feel compelled to share this input, as was provided as a advocacy effort today through participation in this survey:
One of the most negatively-impacting issues we face in Canada today, that contributes to ill-health by disempowering marginalized Canadians towards ability to access quality, healthy food, is the issue of inequity and resulting poverty.
Poverty in Canada impacts the health of Canadians by virtue of the fact that healthy eating with quality food-choice is out of reach for those most vulnerable and marginalized.
Therefore, I believe any conversation we have in Canada and in British Columbia Today, must include a conversation on Poverty, Food-Insecurity for impoverished Canadians and those struggling to make ends meet, The Social Determinants of Health, and the impact of Stress on all Canadians that is generated by the social-hierarchical nature that our way of living together imposes upon citizens.
This way of life contributes highly to an expression of stress-relative disease in individual Canadians. Particularly those already marginalized. This imposition of stress, I believe, has symptoms in the evidence of growing numbers of homeless, mentally ill, addicted, and a growing inequity resulting in disenfranchisement.
For our First Nations, there is much information today to support still-standing serious disenfranchisement of this demographic of Canadians Citizens as well, with resulting ill-health as an outcome.
Poverty and disenfranchisement is highly stressful. High-levels of stress imposition contributes to destruction of both physical and mental health over time.
Ill-Health among Canadians is much higher than might otherwise be achieved should we learn to embrace the below shared information in construction of public-policy in Canada.
Our way of life, I argue, generates inequity, contributing to poverty, which in turn contributes to ill-health among Canadians.
All of which are starting to cost us dearly in health-care costs, which is an outcome none of us want.
To be able to access quality food, frankly, and with all due respect to policy makers:
We as citizens must be enabled to afford purchasing quality food. Food-Banks are not a solution. Here, we find much throw-away, processed foods, that have little nutritional value. Without proper, quality-food nutrition, issues with mental health, as one example of impact, are that much more difficult to manage and potentially overcome.
I share the following information for consideration.
The Social Determinants of Health:
"The social determinants of health influence the health of populations. They include income and social status; social support networks; education; employment/working conditions; social environments; physical environments; personal health practices and coping skills; healthy child development; gender; and culture." http://cbpp-pcpe.phac-aspc.gc.ca/public-health-topics/social-determinants-of-health/
Stress: Portrait of a Killer:
"The documentary “Stress: Portrait of a Killer” illustrates how prolonged exposure to stress can ruin your health in a multitude of ways. We are more vulnerable to the adverse effects of stress if we feel like we have no control, no way out, feel like things are getting worse, and have little social support. Common health conditions caused or worsened by stress include heart disease, hypertension, impaired immune function, infertility, and mental illness."
Food Insecurity in Canada:
"The inadequate or insecure access to food due to financial constraints – is a serious public health problem in Canada. It negatively impacts physical, mental, and social health, and costs our healthcare system considerably."
Further to the discussion, as Canada and British Columbia work in developing public policy in regards to food, I see the following in terms current limitations and barriers relative to actual food production.
Look to the Creston Valley for an example:
Here at home we've prime agricultural land. Vast acres in fact. It's my view that this prime land is wasted in terms of food production, as it seems to be taken up producing, in large part, feed-crops for animals to allow for meat production. It's my understanding that much of this prime land is used as well to produce bio-fuel crops.
Much of our Fruit Production is commercialized for export, which contributes little in return to the health and well-being of Canadians. Other than, of course, ensuring a market for these fruit-crops, that again, are for the most part export, out-of-country fruit-crops as things stand, if I understand the market correctly . It seems like an ineffective use of this prime agricultural land to continue with this mode of production, when food insecurity is now becoming an evident concern for many Canadians and British Columbians today.
These are my thoughts as shared with the opportunity today via the survey launched by the Government of Canada.
I'm appreciating, very much, these opportunities the Government of Canada is offering citizens on issues such as this.
Given the outcome of our election in BC, I ask the new Government, through Ms. Mungall, to please consider working to offer similar opportunities to contribute as citizens to any such public policy development processes.
A functional democracy depends on the input of citizens being respected as valuable.
The opportunities offered frequently by the Government of Canada demonstrate respect for citizen input by expressing that our views are valuable to policy-makers.
Thank you for your service and for the respect granted this citizen as I continue my volunteer role advocating on issues I hold dear.
If ever I over-step by offering too much in terms of citizen input, please advise, and I will pull-back on my contributions.
Regards, Darren Gregory Wynndel BC.
Disability contributes to poverty. Poverty too perpetuates ill-health. It's a vicious circle.
For those in need of assistance who are permanently disabled from working due to either mental health or physical health disability, we are confronted with a situation in Canada today whereby we aren't receiving the financial support needed to meet costs-of-living, let alone do we have anything left over that's disposable enough to fund any treatments we might need.
(PTSD for me as a former paramedic, with depression and substance use issues-the entire safety net in BC let me down, and now on CPP-D alone? I'm one loss away from homelessness. I live with my Mom. She's elderly. Should she pass away? I can't pay to keep myself under this roof).
I share, not for pity, but to simple share one story of how things can go so terribly wrong, resulting in poverty, and precarious, unstable, thereby, unsafe, living arrangements. We do all we can to help ourselves.
The reality is?
Once we carry these labels, the world is pretty much done with us. Add to the stress of recovery needs, the stress of not being able to eek out any kind of life? The necessity of a stable income source, that is fully provisional in terms of needs, cost of living, need for therapy, medication supports etc. can't be understated.
Canada has significant issues impeding those with mental illnesses in terms of being recognized for the disability mental health issues creates. We're not treated the same as those physically injured or disabled. Not that the financial situation is any better for persons with physical or intellectual disabilities. Far from it, in fact.
But across the board we've deprioritized mental health in favour of physical health-care issues.
I stand by this statement, that I'll continue to share until the time comes that we witness and experience true change:
"It’s not only morally wrong but it’s economically stupid for governments not to put mental heath care on the same tier as physical health, says British MP Norman Lamb."
Other contributing factors, with perhaps a path to potential solutions that can be included in any poverty reduction planning we might choose to take on:
We've an increasing gap between rich and poor that needs shoring up now. I just finished a course called, "Shaping the Future of Work". I'd recommend it for every human walking in North America today. The core principles make it clear:
We've been in a downward spiral that started in the 80's when 'trickle-down' theory was all the rage. We no longer have a functional social contract relative to work.
The course intended to help us write one, a new one. Which we did. Nearly 3000 students from 132 countries around the world, all in the same boat: we're doing economics WRONG.
There is no 'trickle-down'. Those at the top are HOARDING their wealth, and NOT injecting said wealth back into the economy.
We need poverty reduction plans. We need the social safety net repaired. And we need to shore up the working poor to at the very least get to a $15/hour wage.
We need labour unions to step up, and to get busy COOPERATING with employers.
What small business worries over is based on faulty assumptions.
Working to shift things from the bottom-up, abandoning any further reference to trickle-down economics, is precisely what needs doing.
Don't trust my take on things?
Then, by all means, help yourself to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) online course via edX: "Shaping THE FUTURE of Work."
Another great course? "Economic Democracy".
Still another? "Just Money: Banking as if SOCIETY Mattered."
Another? "Introduction to the CIRCULAR Economy".
Workers: Are you employed in a small-business that wishes to continue to keep you impoverished while they keep eye on their success as an employer?
Strike a deal: BUY IN, AND OWN PART OF THE BUSINESS. That's the crutch of the course, Economic Democracy. So that all share risk, while also sharing reward.
It's a new era. I'm simply sharing examples of ideas that are valued and should be, in my view, considered in terms of information that might lead to coordinated, quality solutions.
Canada is way behind the eight-ball in terms of getting our own stuff together in regards to the Future of Work, it seems.
This can say what's needed in Canada today in terms of leadership on this and other issues better than I:
"We live in a time of massive institutional failure, collectively creating results that nobody wants. Climate change. AIDS. Hunger. Poverty. Violence. Terrorism. Destruction of communities, nature, life and the foundations of our social, economic, ecological, and spiritual well being. This time calls for a new consciousness and a new collective leadership capacity to meet challenges in a more conscious, intentional, and strategic way. The development of such a capacity would allow us to create a future of greater possibilities."
I appreciate being offered opportunity to provide input as a citizen.
Darren Gregory, Wynndel British Columbia
Consultation has concluded