Mr. Chair and Members of the Committee.
My thanks to you for the opportunity to appear and add my comments to your ever growing knowledge base on the issue of poverty.
As you no doubt already know, the issue of poverty in Canada is complex. It involves multiple jurisdictions, circumstances, solutions and preventative measures.
Over the past several decades, respective Canadian governments have spent billions on this issue and yet poverty continues to exist in Canada. I think we all need to ask ourselves why? Collectively, endless administrations, at all three levels of government have made attempts to resolve this issue. We have indeed made progress on several fronts, but there are still a number of families and other individuals that live in poverty.
As you know, Canada does not have a true definition of poverty. We often use the Low- Income Cut Off or the Market Basket Measure. Frankly, I don’t know that those families that are living in poverty really care which measure we use, so long as the issue of poverty is being addressed.
In recent years, there has been a trend to name child poverty instead of poverty as a pressing social concern. While all poverty, in particular children in poverty, is a tragedy, child poverty would be more aptly named family poverty. Children are, after all, only poor if their family is as well.
We also know that the effects of poverty go beyond mere money and income. Amongst other sources, Statistics Canada reports that the effect of poverty on children has many detrimental outcomes including health (physical and mental), education, developmental and behaviour disorders – there is also a higher probability that as adults they will live in poverty as well.  Addressing these needs lowers other life barriers as well.
Let me preface my next remarks by recognizing that there are those that will require society’s assistance, some more than others. Unfortunately, there are those who are physically or mentally unable to adequately care for themselves. I believe that I am my brother’s keeper and that society has an obligation to assist where it must.
So what can be done? I believe that in our analysis of poverty, we must consider four distinct issues. First, how to meet the immediate short-term needs of those in poverty; second, how to meet the long-term needs; third, how to minimize the number of people who fall back into poverty; and finally, how to prevent poverty from occurring in the first place. Each of these factors are inter-connected.
Download the full presentation here
Listen the entire meeting here