Category Archives: link

(199) Burned in Burnaby

Central City, Surrey, BCLower mainland British Columbia has seen pockets of poverty arising in the suburbs (Burnaby, Richmond, Coquitlam, Surrey) while pockets of increased wealth have appeared in the downtown east side.  The latter notorious for the worst social conditions in Canada for as long as anyone can remember.  As is increasingly found in the United States recent immigrants are tending to go directly to suburban areas and suburban poverty.  This item from the Globe & Mail gives the details.  Did you know that Coquitlam got its first permanent homeless shelter this year?

B.C.’s hidden new face of poverty

photo: Surrey, BC via Wikimedia Commons

(198) New Brunswick

With this alarming turn of phrase the CBC reported on the description of youth unemployment in New Brunswick as: “approaching levels seen in the poorer parts of Europe.”  Randy Hatfield, a poverty activist, was speaking at a forum in Moncton as head of the Saint John Human Development Council.

New Brunswick poverty numbers on the rise

Poverty costs New Brunswickers $2 billion dollars per year
2011 report from Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

photo: Open CLip Art Library via Wikimedia Commons

(197) Niagara Falling

It certainly is a mighty thing, Niagara Falls.  All that water, the honeymoons, the things to see and do, the casinos, the hydro electric power that made both sides of the border into industrial societies.  We can also see social difficulty on the Canadian side of the river has been a concern for some time.  The number of people in Niagara Region living below the Low Income Cut Off (LICO) is higher there than the average for all of Canada, according to the Niagara Community Observatory at Brock University in St. Catharines.  The Community Observatory recently issued a policy brief on poverty in the Niagara region.  The LICO is the generally accepted rough equivalent in Canada to the poverty line in the United States.  It would seem that despite its hydro power, industrial heritage and good agricultural land the Niagara frontier is coming to have things in common with the rust belts of Britain and America.  Hopefully that can be turned around.  Niagara needn’t be below the Canadian average.  A community forum regarding poverty will be held in St Catharines tomorrow.  It deserves to be well attended.

Are the consequences of poverty holding Niagara back?

Poverty creating storm clouds on horizon St Catharines Herald

photo: P. Bica via Wikimedia Commons

(196) Prisons demo

The brand new Metro West Detention CentreIn the Toronto area earlier this month there was a small demonstration to protest federal policy in regard to prison construction and an emerging, American-style, tough-on-crime policy.  The event went by mainstream media and the public despite the merits of the ideas being put forward.  Why are we getting new, large prisons and harsher sentences when crime rates have been going down in Canada?  Why dump socially excluded people in jails and cut back on social programs?  Why are we even having this conversation?

Protestors target prison building architecture conference
Aids Action Now

(195) North New Jersey

Princeton UIn north New Jersey we find more archetypal descriptions of people fallen out of their middle class working lives.  “How will they climb back into them?” seems to be turning into “will they ever climb back into them?” Past performance in terms of income, employment, acquisition of assets and debts within the management of one’s personal finances and the dimensions of personal character doesn’t seem to hold an answer for many.

“Unlike the long-term poor, they had those nest eggs to fall back upon in hard times. But now, as the months without work have stretched into years, those accounts have been depleted and even extended unemployment benefits are running out. With job prospects still wispy, increasing numbers of them are reaching out for help,” says Harvey Lipman in this piece from The Record 

Hardship grows amid wealth: residents face unexpected need in communities across North Jersey

This piece contains a number of useful links regarding poverty in New Jersey including a searchable database of six indicators for Passaic and Bergen counties.

image: Princeton University from Wikimedia Commons

(194) Detroit, MI

Detroit.  Most know the tale of woe and decline that has befallen the city that put the world on wheels.  Population loss, employment decline, racism, and a high level of physical decay are everyday facts-on-the-ground.  The internet is full of images captured by urban explorers of various kinds that demonstrate where things are.  Abandoned structures, hotels, private homes and industrial facilities rot and rust with a kind of perplexing grandeur.  Such places decay quietly until they are set upon by a kind of inverse working class of scavengers, looking first for copper and aluminium and then later for less valuable metals in larger amounts, undoing what’s left of entire swathes of the city.  There’s plenty of graffitti and something very lonely about it all.  This reversal- of-fortune dominates nearly all discussion of Detroit and now includes much of what was once suburban.  Indeed, the suburban poverty in Detroit’s surroundings appear to have gotten worse than in the city itself.

Here are some resources for understanding Detroit.

Detropia  Recent documentary with strong reviews
Requiem for Detroit  British documentary viewable online on Vimeo

Both of these documentaries give credit to Detroit’s once-thriving cultural life, especially its music.

This link is for a non-profit agency called Data Driven Detroit.  It has a trove of valuable material on Detroit, census data analysis, written reports, maps.  The more we look at D3 the more impressed we are!  A model for just about any community.

Data Driven Detroit

Image: public domain via Wikimedia Commons

(193) Canada unites!

 Two union-related items from Canada, where the unions have been declining for decades.  The first is local to  A big, fancy, French-owned hotel has been found by the Ontario Labour Relations board to have undertaken illegal actions to discourage unionization.  Thusly making unionization essentially automatic.  Hotel work is low-paying and the industry has tended to be anti-union making this a victory for working people in Mississauga.

Accor Novotel Watch

The second item is national.  By unanimous vote the Canadian Auto Workers and the Chemical, Energy and Paper Workers unions are merging.  The result will be the largest non-governmental union in the country with over 300,000 workers in several sectors of the economy.

CAW votes to merge with CEP Globe & Mail

(191) Boomer bomb

Hating and resenting boomers is fair game for many these days.  Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem much of a way around the coming fractiousness.  Barring the immediate discovery of a way to run industrial economies on tap water and turn sand into money, that is.  Going forward there will have to be some kind of reckoning between the aging of this large generation and its continued high expectations and everyone else, those who will have to carry much of the operating costs generated by those expectations, …or not.
The generation that fostered and enacted neoconservatism, wanted tax cuts just as its own earning power was peaking now requires pensions and medical care, shuttle buses to the shopping mall and a coupon for ten percent off a calzone.  …the word “payback” comes to mind.

Sponging boomers: the economic legacy left by the baby-boomers is leading to a battle between the generations Economist

(190) Social assistance review in Ontario

There is no bad time to take a good look at poverty.  Unless, of course, you are living in it daily.  Then you’d probably prefer to look at just about fuc&ing anything else.  The rest of us, as voters, taxpayers and citizens of conscience, can’t really be excused for our distractedness on this.  Ontario has experienced a fairly steady erosion in its social services and safety net throughout much of the neo-conservative era.  Going forward, the industrial economy is looking shaky.  Ontario was a surprisingly powerful manufacturer for a long time.  It has been twenty years since there was a major review of social assistance here in’s home province.  High time!

Commission for the review of social assistance in Ontario

It’s time to build dignity into Ontario social assistance Toronto Star

Image: Wikimedia Commons