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Fighting poverty

Elmira Independent Editorial

Living in Woolwich Township at this time of year means that we are encouraged to give to those less fortunate than ourselves.

And every year, residents rise to the occasion. Last week’s Christmas Goodwill Food Drive, for instance, netted thousands of pounds of food in a one-day blitz that covered the township.

Over the next few weeks, donations will be coming in from schools, local businesses and organizations, as well as individuals, for the Christmas Goodwill Program, which provides gift hampers for families with low incomes, or who have suffered a recent job loss. Christmas will happen for each of these families, thanks to the generosity of this community.

But all of this still points to a bleak fact — that there is poverty within Waterloo Region, and, in particular, within this township.

And the need seems to be growing.

The Ontario Association of Food Banks issued a new report this week that shows food bank use in Ontario is at an all-time high, with more than 412,000 Ontarians accessing food support and hunger-relief programs every month.

Child poverty is a big part of this picture. Campaign 2000, an anti-poverty advocacy group, released its annual report card on the state of child and family poverty in Canada last week. The report found that one in seven children in Canada are living in poverty — 23 years after the unanimous House of Commons’ resolution to end child poverty in Canada by 2000, and three years since the unanimous House of Commons resolution “to develop an immediate plan to end poverty for all in Canada.” It appears that we are still waiting for this plan.

More needs to be done to provide support to those living in poverty — and to eliminate the need for charitably-minded Canadians to fill in the gap.

Campaign 2000 suggests changing tax benefits so that they benefit those struggling with low income — and remove these benefits for those clearly don’t need it, such as the $100 Universal Child Benefit to families with children under the age of 6, which is available to everyone, regardless of income.They suggest this, as well as eliminating the Child Fitness Tax Credit, giving the money to those living in poverty instead.

By doing this, Campaign 2000 believes they could have an additional $174 million from Ottawa, lifting 174,000 children out of poverty.

Whether this is a workable solution or not, it at least warrants a very serious discussion, as does the issue of poverty in Canada. Those who are struggling to feed their families deserve more than resolutions that look good on paper, but actually accomplish nothing.

editor@elmiraindependent.com

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