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
In 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
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 suburban-poverty.com’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
T is for Toronto
T is for ten dollars and twenty-five cents an hour
T is for “totally sucks”
…which it does when you try and get by on that, the minimum wage, there. The fact Canada is a lucky country in many ways is all very nice but that should not be used to dismiss the need to improve wages, reduce inequality, crack down on slum landlords and build better public transit in Toronto.
Metcalf Foundation study: working poor numbers way up in Toronto
photo: alexindigo via Wikimedia Commons
Labour Day long weekend is upon us and most of the population of the province of Ontario will pile onto the 400-series highways. A crush of motor vehicles bookends the final days of summer for those with access to lakes, cottages, boating and so forth. Such privileges are meant to be enjoyed and Ontario, especially its densely populated southern parts, has been a busy province these past six or so decades. The economic statistics for Canada’s largest province are staggering, 12.8 million people crank it out to the tune of over 600 billion dollars a year. A shade more GDP than Sweden. That makes Ontario the 25th largest economic unit by GDP in the world and the source of 40% of the Canadian economy. All the more depressing then to come across another negative report about poverty and inequality and threats to the standard of living in Ontario. A place that built 2.1 million automobiles in 2011, many for export all over the world.
A couple of days ago Ontario Common Front (see their Facebook page) released a report placing Ontario at the bottom of the list for social program spending, access to programs and support for public services. Education, health care and the affordability of housing are also examined and found problematic. We can’t think of anything directly related to the standard of living and quality of life of the population here that has been left out. Something like 100 labour groups are part of this organization and the report is dense with worrisome statistics. In turn, we fear it will get too little media attention as Ontarians enjoy their last weekend of the summer, and begin to think about sending children back to school. Nonetheless, an election is coming. One in which a reasonable centrist government will come under attack by eager neo-conservative/neo-liberal forces. Perhaps this report will be a wake up call to all concerned? National news outlets and most provincial newspapers with an online presence have picked it up.
Falling Behind: Ontario’s Backslide Into Widening Inequality, Growing Poverty and Cuts to Social Programs weareontario.ca
image: Wikimedia Commons
One of the editorial interns at suburban-poverty.com came across a fantastic resource today: The Atlas of Suburbanisms from Waterloo University. Just getting to say a word like suburbanisms brings a joy to our hearts, …let alone the content!
The content is, of course, what’s important and as a tool for literacy in Canadian suburbia this site is powerful stuff. The focus is Canada’s three largest urban-suburban agglomerations: Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver. Other communities are also examined. The information is timely, well presented. The more we read, the more we look at the maps and tables and analysis the more impressed we are with this site. Part of the problem of understanding suburban life lies in the difficulty of agreeing to the language to apply to it. The Atlas of Suburbanisms takes us beyond this initial confusion, shows us what is there, …shows us ourselves!
Atlas of Suburbanisms
Making a choice between suburban living and some other kind, or even choosing to see much difference between the two at all, has been a proposition since the suburbs were born. Now, late in the day for cheap energy and E-Z money, the question is defined anew. Recently political actors in Toronto expressed both sides of the question in a place where the suburbs and the city are, if anything, becoming more alike. The amalgamation of the old downtown City of Toronto with its sprawlshed never really sat well with anybody and yet it seems the language for describing the differences between city and suburb is much weaker than it should be.
Raising children in the city vs the suburbs Huffington Post
Do the suburbs make you selfish? Time Business
A lot of the change in the suburbs is driven by change in the city. Toronto is among the five largest cities in North America and has a tower building boom going on that appears to outdo the others on the list combined. The idea of finding a family home in the central city or the inner, older suburbs of Toronto seems to be rapidly becoming obsolete for all but the wealthiest people. This brings Toronto into line with many other global cities where international financial muscle, physical geography, and high population growth rates shape life. This type of change pushes working people outward. The distance pushed goes up even more for those in social difficulty.
The ‘Manhattanization’ of Toronto will change family-housing dreams CBC
Destitution Day arrived June 7th. The new D-Day is a tool of Social Planning Toronto designed to help Canada’s largest, richest, busiest city understand where it is at regarding poverty. Put simply, this is the day a single person collecting social assistance runs out of money. So, no, in case you were wondering Destitution Day is not generating a lot of happy talk or positive feeling. The statistics about poverty contained in the report are pretty distressing. It is said that nearly all the wards of the city contain the equivalent of a small town living in poverty, even the one’s with the highest incomes. And yes, the suburbs are well represented.
Social Planning Toronto releases first-ever poverty profiles of the city’s 44 wards on Destitution Day Toronto Star
Twinned with Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for a shared heritage of steel making, the Canadian city of Hamilton, Ontario also grapples with the kinds of changes many cities in North America are facing. In the piece linked below, a Hamilton blogger and transit acitivist relates the issues of suburban change and decline to his city of just over 500,000 people at the western end of Lake Ontario. It’ll be interesting to compare how post-industrial Hamilton evolves in comparison to Toronto, the sprawling super-suburbanized mega city to the east. Whatever path Hamilton follows will be instructive to the whole region, both sides of the border.
We may be on the edge of an epochal migration Raise The Hammer