As near as the Research Department can tell, panhandling refers to begging for food for a man’s family in North America during the Great Depression. Holding out a cooking pot for passersby to place spare change in told others the intentions for the money were honourable. Certainly begging has been around as long as human society has. Out on the highway off ramps of suburbia it seems to have arrived, just a little later than the rest of us maybe…
As poverty gets pushed to the suburbs so does panhandling Open File
image: Ed Yourdon via Wikimedia Commons
Conflict of interest has torpedoed Rob Ford. Like a vacuum cleaner sucking up a budgie, a Toronto judge today ordered that city’s mayor out of office. Many observers of life here found that this bicycle-hating mayor, an inarticulate, privileged and robust fellow, previously a councillor for Etobicoke, represented one of the worst possible choices for high office in the largest city in the country.
Indeed, goodbye Mayor Ford! Hopefully this is a major nail in the coffin of neoconservatism in Canada. For decades now these politicos making forays into public office from the right wing just turn out to be bullies and dishonest idiots with no respect for government or the people they are supposed to serve. They sucker middle class voters and small business owners with promises of tax cuts and simplified solutions to the crises of the moment. No sophistication, no vision, no intelligence just cranky reactionism. And then what do you get from them in office? Mediocrity and bullshit is what. Shame on Toronto for electing this man in the first place, shame on him for being him. Here’s hoping the largest city in the country, the nation’s business and media capital doesn’t go Ford itself ever again.
This shows us that the neoconservatives are not purveyors of some natural, sensible philosophy. When it comes to municipal life, the layer of government having the most direct influence on the most number of people, they are brutally unsophisticated players on a reactionary mission that is totally inappropriate. This includes their relationships with business.
This is why power and privilege are given to judges in a liberal democracy where the laws are based on a British system. That power and privilege may not always be used well or in ways we immediately comprehend and that make us happy. In this particular case, all three of these things are present.
Cyclists are a pain in the ass YouTube “I will retract the word ass.”
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford brought ouster on himself Toronto Star editorial
photo: Martin Addison via Wikimedia Commons
Mississauga, the muscular central-westerly expanse of the Greater Toronto Area, has been getting media of late. Architecture critic and urbanist Christopher Hume of the Toronto Star wrote the other day that he felt as if Alberta begins on the Humber River. Like others, Hume was reacting to the newness, the commerce, the construction, the hustle-and-bustle found where there was previously an unsatisfying incompleteness of place. Even those deeply critical of Mississauga’s unimaginative planning and the cozy relationships found there between developers and city hall are taken aback at the sheer scale of things now.
As for the poverty, well, it’s pretty much always been there. Mississauga is home to a fringe working class, many born Canadians not doing so hot and now joined by newcomers with their own difficulties. Some new data is available and it got mention in the Mississauga News recently. A publication primarily acting as a sleeve for advertising flyers is to be encouraged when it devotes even a few square centimetres to those not living in monster homes or ripping up and down Highway 10 in a Lexus SUV. Cooksville and Malton are the two worst parts of Mississauga if you want to know where the poverty is in this sizeable slab of real estate. Around the corner from this blog’s offices are neighbourhoods with child poverty rates of twenty and thirty per cent.
Malton, Cooksville among poorest communities
image: Ian Mutoo via Wikimedia Commons
Guelph is a city of about 120,000 people located an hour’s drive west of the Greater Toronto Area on the Speed River. It’s generally a well thought of example of a small city with a good sense of itself. Statistically, Guelph holds a position many North American communities would deeply envy. Crime is low, incomes are reasonable, the environment is in pretty good shape. A university town, Guelph is situated near good agricultural land. Other employment is found there in retail, government offices, and services along with a certain amount of manufacturing, something that helped build Guelph from the nineteenth century on. Nonetheless, there are some issues. How could there not be. Among them are ones familiar on this blog: growth in inequality, over-emphasis on far-flung and unremarkable suburban development, concerns for the older downtown’s physical and economic well being, declining vacancy rates and public transit and traffic issues. A source of research and perspective is the Guelph & Wellington Task force for Poverty Elimination. We enjoyed their 2010 report on public transit and poverty in Guelph. One of the most consistant findings around here has been in regard to the importance of public transit as a deliberate response to community poverty. In September the task force released findings on housing issues, another big one for suburban-poverty.com.
The Impact of Public Transit Fees on Low Income Families In Guelph
gwpoverty.ca – also other resources
Guelph Community Foundation Vital Signs Report
image: Wikimedia Commons
…and so they should! The Interfaith Social Assistance Reform Coalition began life in 1986 to contribute to a review of social assisstance being conducted in Ontario at the time. Here we are in 2012 considering another major review of social assistance. If you were born in poverty in 1986 you could be having your children in poverty right now. ISARC represents an attempt by faith communities in answering to their imperatives to respond to poverty. None of the world’s great faiths let their members or leaders off the hook when it comes to helping others. ISARC is actually kind of fantastic in that contains elements from Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Hindus, Unitarians, Salvation Army and Buddhists as well. All to the good that they are prepared to add weight to a broad approach to improving life in Ontario. Later this month they hold their 2012 religious leaders’ forum. Details on their website along with a variety of other resources. Take a look at their project in suburban Halton Region.
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