Sunday, March 6, 2011
Monday, October 25, 2010
Saturday, October 23, 2010
October 23, 2010
SASKATOON—According to results of repeated and costly consultations and intensive studies, Saskatoonians living below the poverty line are "pretty much screwed," Saskatoon Community Media has announced Saturday.
Although poor people have never had it particularly sweet, Saskatoon is now considered the land of opportunity, where upward class mobility is hard work's reward. However, studies show that limited access to quality education, healthcare, public transportation and shortage of employment opportunities in depressed areas all but ensure that, once screwed, an individual tends to stay screwed.
According to Statistics Canada 34.600 Saskatoon residents were living below the poverty line in 2009.
Not only are the down-and-out screwed, but the number of those down-and-out and screwed is growing. Conditions of disadvantage are often passed from one generation to the next, making it especially difficult for young people to emerge from the cycle of poverty.
"Man, my heart goes out to those poor suckers," one unidentified Saskatoon resident is quoted as saying.
After analyzing the economic performance of Saskatoon households over the past several decades, it has been repeatedly concluded that class mobility, while steady in the '70s and '80s, declined in the '90s about 40 percent of families ended the decade in the same economic strata in which they began it. That's up from about 35 percent in the '80s. That's good news for those sitting pretty, but even in more recent prosperous times it spells 'screw you' to the poor. There are more poor people today, and those poor people are much more screwed than poor people were a decade or two ago.
As the split between the upper and lower classes grows, and the middle class continues to shrink, we're moving closer and closer to what can only be called a 'no way out, dude. Sorry, you're screwed'-type situation. Not only are the poor screwed at the moment, but any chance they once had of changing their miserable lives is pretty much gone, too. Essentially, they're screwed for all time.
Studies have identified four major poverty groups within Saskatoon. The first two groups—one composed of disenfranchised minimum wage workers, the other made up of members of poor aboriginal populations—have been adversely affected by the city’s gradual shift to a technology-based, global economy. Researchers have repeatedly dubbed disenfranchised low wage workers the "Working Screwed", while members of poor aboriginal populations are called the "Indigenous Screwed". Individuals in these two groups are now classed universally as "screwed from the get-go."
The other two rapidly expanding groups of deprived are the "Suburban Screwed", whose members can't afford the rising cost of such basic necessities as a home, and the urban underclass whose members are found in the inner city. Researchers term these groups the "Recently Screwed" and the "Utterly Screwed", respectively.
Economists often are quoted as saying there's little reason for sympathy stating that in a healthy capitalist economy, some people are going to be out-competed. Some of those screw-ups have screwed themselves; not condoning an anarchic 'screw or be screwed' ethos, but many find it hard to get behind a welfare state that punishes the unscrewed by screwing all equally. While expressing concern for the city’s poor, most believe increased funding for social programs isn't the answer.
But what about all the people in this great nation who are not screwed? If the financial resources of the economically stable are diverted—through some well-intentioned but fiscally irresponsible social program—to the people who are screwed, where does that leave those who were sailin' along fine? Well - screwed, that’s where.
As a final thought:
An under-employed, single father who made $21,000 last year, and has been unable to find affordable housing for himself and his children said he was not surprised by the reports. "They say I'm screwed? "Shit, man, tell me something I don't know."
*adapted for discussion purposes only
Saturday, October 16, 2010
SASKATOON—In response to the record number of Saskatoon poor, Saskatoon lips are being called to service. "Poverty is a menace to society," one resident, identified only as Jadis said. "As the ranks of the city’s poor grow and more social programs are scaled back, it is crucial that all able Saskatonians talk about how something must be done." Jadis then entreated all able-voiced men and women between the ages of 18 and 24 to volunteer to periodically mention that the current poverty rate is too high.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
“The poor cannot wait for the rich to issue the call for justice. We need to get poor people involved in the changes themselves.” -Jeffrey Sacks-
Because those who live in poverty:
- suffer from social exclusion and are regularly excluded from the decisions that affect their lives and those of their brothers and sisters
- have the right to meaningfully participate in decision making on issues affecting them
- have unique expertise and experiences and have a vital role to play in defining the health, social, legal, and research policies that affect them
Those who live in poverty must:
- Be supported when demonized and attacked in the media and by the community because of who they are
- Be supported in fighting the fear, shame and stigma that keep them from fully participating in our communities
- Be supported to develop the skills and knowledge necessary to be good peer educators and advocates
- Be valid and valued participants in consultative processes, as well as in decision making or policymaking bodies and advisory structures dealing with issues affecting them
- Be involved in research that affects them, through community review committees and community consent processes.
Poverty is not just about income, but is also about access to safe and affordable housing and other aspects of human life which are so important to human dignity. Any program that merely meets the physical needs of a poor person, or even provides a job, is not by itself a true development program unless it leads to the unfolding of his or her creative energy and personal development.
We all must call on ourselves, our civic, provincial, and federal governments to take action so that everyone’s health and human rights are respected, protected and promoted, and we all are involved in all decisions that affect our lives.
“DOES” Guideposts: A Checklist for Participating with and Engaging Poverty’s First Voice:
In both poor and rich countries, poverty is more than a lack of money. In 2001 the World Bank interviewed 60,000 people in 47 countries about what relief of poverty meant to them. The answers were: Dignity, Opportunity, Empowerment, and Security (DOES). Poverty means not participating fully in society and having limits on leading the life one values.
We, the members of the Saskatoon Anti Poverty Coalition, believe that people with experience of poverty have a particular contribution to make to poverty discussions and anti-poverty action. At the same time, we are not saying that only those living on low incomes have something to say about poverty, or that they alone have a right to talk and/ or write about it. Instead we want to stress the importance of an inclusive approach to poverty, which recognizes the validity of all voices seeking to challenge poverty.
The following checklist provides six (6) ‘DOES’ guideposts which should be regarded as essential to communicate when engaging people with low income (poverty’s first voice) in any poverty reduction initiative or project:
Identify how people get involved:
- What participation options are available e.g. committee member, focus group,
- Are there options which require a smaller time commitment?
- Are there options which allow for one time participation and other options for ongoing
- Identify how all participants will feel their contribution is equally valued,
- Are people with experience living on limited low income given equal
- Who, if anyone, are “poor” participants expected to represent?
Identify support(s) that value people’s time and reduce barriers to inclusion and participation
- Is there a budget for transportation (bus, mileage, and parking) and child care?
- Are there wages or honoraria for participation?
- Will healthy food be provided, either snacks or a meal?
- Are all of these items advertised to all potential participants?
Acknowledge labelling and maintain safety and dignity of all participants
- Are participants asked to identify their income level or experience, either
work? If so, is this necessary?
- Are participants asked to use the word “poor”, or any similar word, to describe
- Is there a discussion about how and why people are identified as
- Are participation options provided that allow people to avoid being labelled, such
Identify how participants make a difference
- Is the initiative open to a change in direction based on the input of all
- What decision-making power, and responsibilities, if any, do participants living
Identify ratio of those with limited low income and others
- Are there enough people with experience living on low income participating to
- Do paid and unpaid participants have opportunities to develop relationships with
Nothing About us is reproduced here on behalf of the Saskatoon Anti-Poverty Coalition:
a coalition of concerned citizens and organizations who are dedicated to addressing the causes and effects of poverty.
Saskatoon Anti Poverty Coalition is comprised of representatives with the lived experience of poverty (First Voice) as well as organizational representatives from: Riverbend Inner City Ministry, Saskatoon Health Region (Public Health and Primary Health), Canadian Red Cross, Elizabeth Fry, Child Hunger and Education Program (CHEP), Quint Development Corporation, Equal Justice for All, Saskatoon Housing Coalition, Indian and Metis Friendship Centre, Canada Without Poverty, Saskatoon Food Bank and Learning Centre, Saskatoon United Way, Saskatoon Community Clinic, Rainbow Community Centre, Poverty Free Saskatchewan, Saskatoon Multi-faith Social Justice Circle, Saskatoon Friendship Inn, and Saskatoon Faith Churches/communities.
Sunday, October 10, 2010
Jails and Nursing Homes: Something to think about:
Let's put seniors in jail and felons in nursing homes.
This would correct two things in one motion:
Seniors would have access to showers, hobbies and walks.
They would receive unlimited free prescriptions, dental and medical treatment, wheel chairs, etc.
They would receive money instead of having to pay it out.
They would have constant video monitoring, so they would be helped instantly if they fell or needed assistance.
Bedding would be washed twice a week and all clothing would be ironed and returned to them.
A guard would check on them every 20 minutes.All meals and snacks would be brought to them
They would have family visits in a suite built for that purpose.
They would have access to a library, weight/fitness room, spiritual counselling, a pool and education...and free admission to in-house concerts by nationally recognized entertainment artists.
Simple clothing - i.e.., shoes, slippers, pj's - and legal aid would be free upon request...
There would be private, secure rooms provided for all with an outdoor exercise yard complete with gardens.
Each senior would have a computer, T. V., phone and radio in their room at no cost.
They would receive daily phone calls.
There would be a board of directors to hear any complaints and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association would fight for their rights and protection.
The orderlies would have a code of conduct to be strictly adhered to, with attorneys available, at no charge to protect the seniors and their families from abuse or neglect.
As for the felons.
They would receive cold food.They would be left alone and unsupervised.
They would receive showers once a week.
They would live in tiny rooms, for which they would have to pay $5,000 per month.They would have no hope of ever getting out.
Support Poverty Awareness Week October 16 - 27, 2010.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
It is time to redefine what is newsworthy. A lot of communities have taken back their power from corporate and political authority and are helping to shift priorities in media practices around the world.
There are many dangerous assumptions at play within the media: one being that people are heartless and do not want to read human-interest stories (code word for development) or that to lure the younger generation of readers/viewers, one has to dumb down. Admittedly, the pressure to conform to what others are doing is immense, especially since so much of what newspapers do is advertisement driven but that does not mean it is impossible to focus on community service in an interesting manner. It requires creativity and leadership, both of which are in ample supply through out Saskatoon.