Poverty in Canada Essay
Despite having one of the highest standards of living among all the developed nations, and despite being voted numerous times in recent years by the United Nations as the best country in the world in which to live, experts agree that poverty is prevalent in Canada today. Unfortunately, that is more or less where the agreement ends. Exactly how prevalent and how serious a problem poverty is in Canada is an open question that has been hotly debated for the last 10 years.
There have been two times in the past 300 years when economic structural changes have occurred in the world that have been so massive and so far-reaching, that the impact on societies has been nothing short of monumental.
The first time was in the Industrial Revolution which began in the early 1700s and caused massive societal transformations, especially in the western world, changing life from agrarian-based societies to industrial-based societies. The second time was in the early 1980s with the beginning of the “Information Revolution.” Today, a rapid, world-wide, economic transformation is taking place that is changing our societies from industrial-based societies to information-based societies, the 3rd wave.
These changes are part of a greater phenomenon called “globalization” . The improvement in technology lead to a desire to make trades with other countries, and therefore allowing foreign companies to sell in Canada and thereby compete with Canadian companies, and vice versa (“Laisser faire, laisser passer” – Adam Smith).This increased competition lead to ever greater pressures on Canadian companies to reduce their costs of producing goods. Companies closed down and went looking in third world countries because labour is cheaper. At the same time, technology was replacing human labour; employees lost their jobs, being replaced by machines that could do the job faster and more efficiently. This eliminated the manufacturing, low-to-medium skills, well-paying jobs, which didn’t require a very high level of education. While now, our labour markets into high-skills, high-paying jobs on one end of the spectrum, and low-skills, low-paying jobs on the other end. Therefore, one way would be for people have to get a better education to get a better job, get better money, and get themselves out of poverty, which runs along the views of Plato.
But who are the poor in Canada? Are there any identifiable persons or groups who are more likely to be poor than others? Is age a factor? What about gender, race? What about geographical factors? Does living in certain parts of the country make you more likely to be poor than living in other parts? According to Smith, there is in every society an absolute minimum standard of living which consists of survival necessities (shelter, food and clothes), plus additional non-survival necessities as determined by each society’s customs (such as owning a linen shirt and a pair leather shoes in his day). Together these necessities meet not only a person’s basic survival needs, but also allow that person to participate in society with dignity and without the shame and stigma often attached to being poor. To allow any person to live below this minimum standard would, to use Smith’s term, render that society “indecent.”
The following studies have been made by Kevin Lee from the Canadian Council on Social Development:
“1. From 1990 to 1995 the total number of poor people in Canada increased dramatically. During this period, Canada’s total population increased by 6.1 percent, whereas the population of those considered poor increased by 28.6 percent, far outstripping the overall growth.
2. Poverty is largely an urban phenomenon. In 1990, 66.6 percent of the poor population in Canada lived in metropolitan centers. 70 percent of all poor people live in Montreal, Vancouver or Toronto. Between 1990 and 1995, poverty rates rose in every city examined.
3. Poverty rates varied substantial between cities. Cities in Quebec had the highest poverty rates while cities in southern Ontario had the lowest. For example, Montreal had the highest rate in Canada, 2.5 times higher than Oakville, which had the lowest rate.
4. Certain population groups were more likely to be poor than others. These included:
* Single-parent families, whose poverty rate was 2.45 times higher than the average.
* Aboriginal persons, whose poverty rate was 2.26 times higher than the average.
* Recent immigrants, whose poverty rate was 2.17 times higher than the average.
* Visible minorities, whose poverty rate was 1.53 times higher than the average.
* Persons with disabilities, whose poverty rate was 1.47 times higher than the average.
5. Poverty rates varied considerably according to age and gender. The young and the elderly are more likely to experience poverty. The incidence of poverty declines with age until age 45 to 54, after which it rises again. Women in every age groups are more likely to live in poverty, and women seniors above age 75 are the most like of any group. Among males, boys up to age 14 had the highest poverty rate. Children and youth made up one third of the total poor population.
6. Poverty rates varied based on education levels. As expected, in every city examined persons with less than high school education were more likely to be poor than those with a post-secondary level education. However, at least 6 percent of post-secondary graduates in every city lived in poverty, and in six cities that rate was over 20 percent.
7. Poverty rates varied based on occupational skills levels. As expected, persons with lower skills levels had a higher incidence of poverty, however high-skills workers still had high poverty rates in some cities. For example, in Montreal almost 20 percent of high-skills workers were living in poverty as compared to 4.5 percent in Gloucester or Burlington.
8. The average income for working-age families in Canada was $60,400.
9. The average income for working-age “poor” families in Canada was $14,500.”
Taken from http://www.ccsd.ca/pubs/2000/up/
But another question prevails here: How should we help them? Canada has been using a lot of different methods to try and help them. We can find numerous shelters for the homeless, which also provides them with food and water. All this is free for them, but it’s not helping them get out of poverty, it is like a breathing device for them. Without it, they would die. There are other people who do have a home, as humble as it might be, but they are having troubles paying for it, since they cannot find a job. The government supplies those people with an amount of money weekly. This is called the Welfare system, but it is not working as well as in Sweden. This may be because the people are taking this money, and instead of spending it on food and vital needs, some of them go and buy cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs. On the other hand, some people are wisely investing it in education, and vital needs. This makes us wonder if our tax money is being spent wisely.
Should the government tax the working people to give and income to the non-working people? There are many points of view about this subject. We may think that it is unfair that you are working to help them, without getting anything in return. We may feel like we are being obliged to care for the less well off. But in fact, by giving them little boost, they are helping us back. If they get a chance at a better education, they could get a job, or even open their own company, which would create employment, and in its turn would increase consumption, and make the economy go round. We would all benefit from this. If this starts off, there would be enough jobs for everyone, thus getting the present poor people out of poverty and help the next generation be poverty free. Of course I am exaggerating, there would never be 0% poverty, but there might be a possibility of a 100% educated population. Once this has been reached, more innovations will be accessible, and the updated Adam Smith would come in play: “Laisser innover”, also known as R&D. This could help in many ways, a good example would be space technology.
The exploration of space has, ever since it began in 1962 with the launch of Yuri Gagarin, been a controversial subject among the peoples of this planet. The controversy surrounds the spending of billions and billions of dollars on the pursuits of space exploration. The thread of the most common argument against space is that there are more pressing problems here on our planet such as pollution, overcrowding, disease, poverty etc. that this money could be spent on. Will taking moneys from space exploration and investing more money in these immediate problems help them? There is no doubt that by investing more in these problems that there will be measurable improvements in all problems. In fact given a conscious effort to spend wisely any problem could be helped. So the question becomes does space exploration help this planet? Can exploring space on its own justify the investment?
The most obvious area where space exploration has benefited our immediate lives is right in every ones own living room. The television newscasts which you watch have been more than likely been transmitted via satellite. The satellite has also allowed trans-continental telephone calls, emergency tracking and a host of other uses. These are measurable benefits in the present, but the question begs as to why we spend money on theoretical research on quasars, missions to the moon, and experimental technologies which seem like science fiction to most people.
The answer to this question lies in the benefit of space exploration that we see today, that is, in satellite communications. More than thirty years ago when Sputnik was first launched that was deemed a marvel of science and technology, almost science fiction. No one person could foresee the benefits that could be gleaned from the launch of this simple spherical metal ball which bounced radio signals back to earth. The point here is that the investment in this project paid off, in what we see today in the form of TV news, phone calls and direct broadcasting television.
It is important to point out that the Sputnik launch and all other attempts including the American Echo project were good investments but there are space projects which failed miserably such as the Russian attempt at building a Super Booster, now called Energia. Millions of dollars were wasted in this failed project. What I am trying to illustrate is that there are good and bad ideas, good and bad investments not only in space exploration but in any field of science. This is what drives the advancement of knowledge.
Space exploration in the broadest sense gives us the future. It is an investment not for the short term but for the long term. It allows us to study different environments, allows technology to develop and allows ideas to be tested. No one can argue that Sputnik was not a wise investment so how can we possibly know that sending missions to the moon is not. The responsibility lies with us to determine what is important and worth pursuing.
Poverty in Canada Essay
Poverty in Canada has been a long debate on the political and social fronts of the community. According to 2005 reports, an estimated over ten percent of the Canada population are living in poverty. Of much concern is the ever increasing rate of homelessness experienced in the nation over the past two decades (Lee, 2000). However, numerous reports have indicated that the measure of poverty in Canada is negated by the government’s failure to have a definite method of measuring poverty levels.
True to the letter, Canadians are current faced with the debate on whether absolute or relative measure of poverty is the best in determining poverty levels in the nation. Nevertheless, numerous measures have been put in place to promote poverty reduction strategies in many provinces of Canada. In addition, non-governmental organizations are increasingly engaging in community based poverty reduction projects. This paper is written as a discussion on poverty in Canada.
The author will in particular look at the statistics of poverty in the nation, how poverty is measured in Canada, and the current poverty reduction measures being implemented. Poverty in Canada Poverty in Canada has been an historical issue for many centuries. According to available statistical information, poverty in the nation remains a swing between economic growth and recession as well as numerous evolving initiatives by the government to assist low income members of the community (Raphael, 2002). This information still indicates the emergence of organized assistance to the poor in the twentieth century.
True to available literature, most of the poor assistance programs are generally funded by the church. This is evident from the catholic encyclopedia, which funds approximated over eighty seven hospitals in the Canadian nation catering for the poor members of the community (Surhone, 2009). On the other hand, the government has been on the forefront in addressing poverty issues among its citizens. Such can be historically evident from the establishment of the Canada’s welfare state after the great depression as was initiated by Bennett and Mackenzie King.
Nevertheless, the problem of poverty in Canada is still a major threat to the sustainable social and economic development of the Canadians. From a 2003 statistical reports, an estimated poverty rate of over 10% has been reported (Raphael, 2002). This percentage has been confirmed by the central intelligence agency as an official value although the absolute rate is undoubtedly expected to be higher. However, the Canadian federal government seems not to agree with this value and have published a current poverty rate to have gone down for the past sixty years to a value less than five percent (Raphael, 2002).
This value was determined on the basis of the basic needs poverty measure and deviates very much from what is perceived to be real. Many organizations top on the list being the Fraser institute have not appreciated this value and depict the Canadian federal government as extremely exaggerative. The above contradiction between the government and these conservative organizations has been compounded by the fact that the Canadian federal government has failed to endorse any metric measure of poverty including but not limited to the low income cut off.
Altogether, the Canadian federal government seems to have realized the impact of poverty to the society and have employed several measures to reduce it. This is evidenced by the continued decline of poverty in the recent time 1996 when recession which was marked with low income rates. For instance, statistics shows that the less fortunate people such as the physically disabled, mentally ill, and single parent mothers are experiencing higher income rates. Students and recent immigrants have at least higher or average low income rate hence they can afford the basic needs. Measures of poverty in Canada
The establishment of an official poverty measuring system in America has been marked with many controversies top on the list being the fact that politicians have failed to agree on a precise definition of poverty (Groot-Maggett, 2002). The have therefore ignored the interest of statistics Canada of defining poverty by it unable and unworthy to determine what is necessary to be a basic necessity. The government and some research institutes use different methods to estimate the extent of poverty of poverty in Canada. However, a debate has emerged on the supremacy of absolute and relative methods of measuring the depth of poverty.
The author of this paper discuses both the absolute and the relative measures of poverty. One of the absolute measures of poverty is the basic needs poverty measure. According to libertarian Fraser institute’s economist Chris sarlo, the basic needs poverty measure was conceived to be a poverty threshold (Groot-Maggett, 2002). According to this basic needs approach of poverty, basic needs are those things which are required by people for their physical goods over a long time depending on the current living standards of that particular society.
This measure was designed based on different information obtained fro various sources which include but not limited to statistics Canada. An extensive assessment of how much a person can spend in the house was established to give this measure the originality and substance it deserves. This was accomplished by examining the cost of various things which where perceived to meet the above definition of basic need. This included food, clothing, shelter, personal care, transport and communication for different types of societies.
Based on the above research and by putting inconsideration the family size, the number of families which had insufficient income to cater for those necessities were determined. Earlier on, the amount of income required to cater for the basic necessities was determined on the basis of gross income which was inclusive of old age pensions and employment insurances. Currently however, the net income has been used the financial ability of a family to sustain its basic requirements (Lee, 2000).
A worthy noting point is that this net income is based on reports which can be marked with error such as unreported and underground means of earning income. Based on the basic needs poverty measure, have gone down with an appreciatable rate to a value less than 5% which is estimated to represent less than 2million Canadians. Another absolute measure of poverty is termed the market basket measure. This was designed and established in 2003 by the Canadian government through its department of human resources and skills development (Raphael, 2002).
The market basket measure of poverty accommodated a wider range of basic needs than the basic need measure. For instance, it put in consideration the community size and location for at least 48 communities in Canadians and then estimated the sufficient amount of income required to meet those needs. This measure is still understudy and is expected to cover more than 400 communities. The main notable relative property measures is the income distribution measure commonly known as income inequality metrics, gives information regarding the variation of income in a given community.
Its effectiveness is evidenced by the fact that when a given group of people increases their income rate then there is a high probability of those earning less to feel an increase in their income. Another often quoted as a relative measure of poverty is the low income cut off which has received many critics from the statistics Canada and they have disregarded it as not a measure of poverty by saying that it does not give reliable and accurate fingers. The low income cut off measure was based on the gross income but the statistics Canada have given reports of both the gross and the net income (Marseken, Timpledon, & Surhone, 2009).
This measure was designed to give the lowest mark which when exceeded; a family will have to spend much to cater for basic needs such as food shelter and clothing. Recent results based on this measure showed that approximate of 9. 4% lives below the low the current threshold of 63% of the total family income. Poverty reduction measures Like any other country in the world which is conscious of the well being of its people, the Canadian government through the provinces has employed several measures to eliminate poverty and a gain to reduce its impact to the people. Top on the list of these important measures is reduction of tax burdens.
This is evidenced by the progressive income tax system in Canada which has resulted to a difference of about 5% between the gross and net low income cut off (Pohl, 2002). Government social programs cannot go unmentioned here because of their importance and effectiveness in succumbing poverty. The Canadian government has come up with a broad range of social programs aimed at helping the law income people. These programs include but not limited to old age security and employment insurance which have seen through the reduction of chances of falling to poverty of people who were rendered unemployed.
In addition to this, government funds have been channeled to subsidizing education and public health with an aim of improving the living standards of people with low income (Raphael, 2002). Another government measure which cannot escape this discussion is the introduction of the minimum wage laws. The constitution of Canada includes the minimum wage laws, which even though they vary for different provinces, they have confirmed there effectiveness in standardizing wages by making sure that people with law income are not exploited (Raphael, 2002).
The minimum set minimum wage is $8. 00 per hour although it can go a bit down for unskilled workers. Conclusion In conclusion therefore, poverty is not well defined in Canada because of the failure of politicians to agree on the necessities which should be basic. However, the above discussion shows that a considerable number of people in Canada are poor and lacks the basic needs a defined by the basic needs measure of poverty. In addition to this, the government’s effort to eliminate poverty as well as reducing its impacts cannot fail to be appreciated.
This is it has invested sufficiently in social programs and in the enforcement of the minimum law wages which have seen through the reduction of poverty and its effect to the people. It also safeguard the less fortunate people and ensured that the poor people are not exploited or robed there right of living a good life. References Groot-Maggetti, G. (2002). A measure if Poverty in Canada. A Guide to the Debate about Poverty. Retrieved August 1, 2010, from http://action. web. ca/home/cpj/attach/A_measure_of_poverty. pdf Lee, K. (2000). Urban Poverty in Canada: Statistical Profile. Retrieved August 2, 2010, from http://www.ccsd. ca/pubs/2000/up/ Marseken, S. , Timpledon, M. , & Surhone, L. (2009). Poverty in Canada: Poverty, Minimum Wage, Measuring Poverty, Income Taxes in Canada, Economic History of Canada, Great Depression in Canada, Basic Needs, Economic Inequality.
Toronto: Betascript Publishers. Pohl, R. (2002). Poverty in Canada. Retrieved August 1, 2010, from http://www. streetlevelconsulting. ca/homepage/homelessness2InCanada_Part2. htm Raphael, D. (2002). Poverty, Income Inequality, and Health in Canada. Retrieved August 2, 2010, from http://www. povertyandhumanrights. org/docs/incomeHealth. pdfPoverty in Canada is a serious issue that needs to be effectively and efficiently addressed. Approximately one in six Canadians lives in poverty despite Canada being among the wealthiest developed countries. The poor live in poor housing conditions, earn minimal wages and overcrowded regions with some being forced into the streets, in cars or old vans. (www. kairoscanada. org). Poverty makes them live in fear, become malnourished, bad health conditions that make their lives a misery. Canada has a record of having the strongest economic growth especially from 1997-2003.
What are the causes of poverty in Canada? Poverty rates for the minority groups’ for instance aboriginal people, new immigrants, single parents and one disabled are higher. These people lack secure employment from which they can earn a decent source of income. Without the finances they cannot cater for their basic needs like food, shelter and clothing. Lack of adequate and efficient government support also contributes to the higher rates of poverty. The poor get poorer when relevant authorities fail to provide or open channels through which they can access financial assistance.
Poverty in Canada is highly correlated to gender, race and a citizen’s status in the society. (www. ccsd. ca). Those from families that are at a higher rank in terms of social power will be of better economic status compared to those from poor families. Poverty tends to be inherited as wealth and riches are. (www. kairoscanada. org). Education is a vital factor affecting or contributing to poverty. Parental education level affects how their children will be whereby those with tertiary education have the skills or knowledge to acquire decent employment that can enable them lead decent lives.
The family size and structure also contributes to poverty. Single parents have higher chances of living in poverty as they have to single-handedly cater for their children. Large families also need more finances to cater for all their needs and small families generally tend to be better off. Cultural barriers and prejudice affects or influences government policies as well as social attitudes and economic structures. Distribution of wealth and not lack of it acts as a major cause of poverty in Canada. Poor pay act as a major determinant of poverty.
The government allocates a minimal amount of resources for overall social transfers for instance on income assistance, child benefits, old age security, disability assistance, employment insurance and social assistance. New immigrants get poor wages and work under hostile conditions. Since they do not have permanent residency they are very susceptible to exploitation. They work for long hours, earn sub-standard wages, lack over time pay and are physically or verbally abused. (www. kairoscanada. org). Discrimination against women and people of colour hinders them from employment opportunities.
Gender inequalities and domestic responsibilities, lack of appropriate childcare and language barriers hinder effective employment and consequently poverty levels rise. Family characteristics for instance the age of becoming a parent affects or rather influences family income levels and increases the chances of poverty. Research has shown that families of single mothers are generally poorer than families headed by men. In terms of wages paid women tend to earn less than males as they participate a lot in domestic chores and childcare (www. kairoscanada. org).
They also tend to be more represented in the service and less paying employment opportunities as compared to men. What are the effects of poverty in Canada? Poverty in Canada has detrimental effects in economic, social as well as psychological aspects of those it involves. It deprives off the poor important things like food, shelter, clothing, education, health and employment. Inability to adequately provide for the poor is a cost to the government especially when cost of housing for example increases. Quality of healthcare provided is undermined as the demand for these services increases.
Poverty is linked to poor health and since Canada provides universal health care it has increased expenses providing for more patients. Poverty and income inequalities have a major effect on health where health effects of poverty are felt more among the poor. The costs incurred on other services like education, recreation, transportation, security and pension also face a blow as the demand increases. (www. kairoscanada. org). Poverty affects people’s self esteem, dignity and belonging as it exposes them to hostile indecent living conditions. Those discriminated upon are emotionally affected by the way the society treats them.
Poverty has a negative impact on social cohesion as well as economic prosperity. Poverty is also responsible for increased incidences of child labour and child abuse. Poor families can use their children to supplement their incomes. Criminal activities are aggravated by poverty since the poor may use illegitimate means to attain the basic necessities. How is poverty addressed or handled in Canada? Canadians fight or react to poverty in different perspectives. Direct donations and charity are offered to the poor and they include money, time, clothing and food.
Economic based strategies are also developed for instance the creation of cooperatives and local businesses that are supported and run by the community in terms of funds or loans. This approach is beneficial to the community at large as what an individual could not have afforded is now affordable. Government protests and advocacy is another response to poverty. Churches and other non governmental organisations lobby to government to address vital issues like on income security where minimum wages can be set, employment insurance, childcare, social programs and fairness of taxation.
Anti-poverty groups create or rather raise awareness of poverty and by so doing, keep the government in check. What are the strategies of fighting poverty in Canada? Government policies should be changed so as to increase more income supports for the Canadians. There should be increased security and remuneration in the labour markets whereby minimum wages as well as observance or adherence of human rights to part time and contract workers are considered. (www. socialjustice. org). There should also be increased accessibility to public facilities like housing, childcare as well as recreational programs.
The children are a vulnerable population that ought to be adequately attended to. The Canadian government ought to be committed in setting targets of progress. Setting a parliamentary committee would also be appropriate especially in ensuring that there is transparency and effectiveness in the process of poverty eradication. It can establish fair tax systems for instance a low-income tax that can promote education to uplift the poor people’s living conditions. The government ought to assist single parents by increasing their benefits. Child benefits should also be increased so as to improve the living standards of children from poor families.
Cultural transformation is also crucial if poverty is to be eliminated in Canada as cultural aspects influence poverty. (www. socialjustice. org). People can be encouraged to value and pursue academic goals so as to increase their chances of getting jobs that can enable them lead decent lives. An effective poverty eradication strategy is one that is made for the people and by the people. It is therefore very important to involve the minority groups like people of colour and women in the design and implementation of poverty eradication strategies.
Families can be encouraged to raise small families so that their educational levels can be higher as their family incomes would be higher. Cooperative societies and other forms of community efforts to mobilize finances for the overall development should also be encouraged. They will be very important in ensuring that the status of the poor is uplifted. Education is very important in ensuring that people attain the necessary skills to fit in the job market. (www. conferenceboard. ca) Concerns of the poor should therefore be felt or reflected in the government policies as well as in its decision-making processes.
Their human as well as economic rights should be fought for or respected. Reducing the gap between the rich and the poor would be an appropriate measure by the Canadian government. (english. napo-onap. ca). It only works to make the rich richer as the poor languish in poverty. Hiring processes should be fair and just so that the human rights are respected. Discrimination has negative effects, as it would result to under-utilisation of skills, capacities, talents and opportunities all of which are beneficial to the country as a whole.