Tag Archives: statistics

(72) Foodbankistan

Sorry Charlie, ...you had to use a food bank.
Sorry Charlie, …you had to use a food bank.

While consuming an overpriced coffee product this morning we accidentally read part of today’s Globe & Mail.  It was left behind on a table in a Barstuck’s coffee shop in Toronto’s financial district.  The usual doom-and-gloom and consumerism filled the paper but we were heartened to see one article: a double pager with no ads about food bank use in every province.  Maps and graphics made for factually solid reading.  At suburban-poverty.com we are torn by media coverage of poverty.  We are glad to see it and we hate to see it.

Ironically, we were on our way to Metropolitan United Church Community Services where  participation in the Out-of-the-Cold program is under way.  Thusly aligning the reality of the Globe piece with our own, however fleetingly.  Curiously, we were chatting with several of suburban-poverty.com’s board of governors the other day and we remarked that when we were in Grade 8 there were no food banks, but there was this Prime Minister named Mulroney…

Demand for food banks stubbornly high

(71) Toronto 2025: when three unequals add up to 99%

Here’s a recent feature from the Toronto Star about inequality.  Written by J David Hulchanski, a university of Toronto social work academic, it notably takes up the language of the occupy movement.  That movement may fade a little as winter weather sets in but suburban-poverty.com feels it is now a full contributor to the general discourse in the United States and the United Kingdom.  In Canada it is not as developed.  Mixed feelings about the banks do exist here but there is a genuine sense that the regulatory environment and the corporate culture in banks here deserve some moral credit for keeping us a little more secure than elsewhere.
Don’t get us wrong, the fact Canadian banks didn’t deliver us unto a foreclosure crisis or help themselves to even more of our money in the form of direct bailouts should probably not be viewed as a major favour.  That goes double when you consider two more things.  Firstly, “our” banks have been drawing on a major piece of real estate, the second largest country in the world for two hundred years so they can afford to be well regulated and like it along the way.  Second, we bail them out indirectly every day in the form of transaction fees.  Suburban-poverty.com’s treasurer was aghast the other day to have an ATM screen inform him of a new $1 charge for printing a statement the size of a modest convenience store receipt.  All those “tips” add up, people.
Hulchanski’s article elaborates on an established concept, the emergence of three cities in the Greater Toronto Area.  Basically it’s about the death of the middle class.  Statistics, a graph and a map indicate the reality of suburban poverty in the fifth largest city in North America, Canada’s business capital and a vast area increasingly defined by, and living off of the avails of, suburban sprawl.
The 99% know all about inequality
[statistics for 1970 & 2005 – projections for 2025]

(66) Las Vegas

Worrisome reading about Las Vegas, Nevada and poverty.  Probably the ultimate in suburban statements in its day, one has to wonder what kind of future this desert city has.  A near total dependency on motor vehicles, air conditioning and water from far away makes for some hair-raising possible futures.  Does it seem like the economy there is recovering in any way?  Will real estate values go up again?  Is it a matter of just waiting around for the next real estate boom?

Behind Las Vegas glitz and glamour: a dark city marred by poverty Guardian UK

(62) Poverty in Canada [Book review]

Today in Canada is Thanksgiving Day.  Jour de l’Action de grâce has been a national holiday since 1957.  What better spot on the calendar could we pick to review the second edition of Poverty In Canada: Implications for Health & Quality of Life by York University professor Dennis Raphael?

From first encounter this work comes across well.  The second edition clears 500 pages in trade paperback form and continues the fact-jammed academic dissection of poverty in the first edition, with extras.  Of course, there are tables and charts and analysis with references, index and suggestions for web resources and further reading all in the right places.  Plentiful ammunition for journalists, academics, policy makers and public servants to use against ignorance of poverty and hopefully poverty itself.  Students should find this book useful in many fields.

Poverty in Canada is too frequent, too consistent, too often racialized, too hard on too many children, too deep, too little studied, too (literally) sickening, too often not acknowledged at all, too often blamed on the individual affected by it, too closely linked to deliberately chosen neo-conservative economic policies, and too readily reduced or eliminated by quite reasonable efforts and means.  Again and again in this book Canada is seen to fare better than the United States but significantly worse than the Scandinavian countries when it comes to poverty.  Considering the size and economic output of this country our poverty has to be some of the craziest shit in the developed world.  If you are remotely interested in this topic you will find something of disturbing value in Raphael’s work.

Lived experience of poverty has been given more profile in the new edition.  This is sensible.  Elaborating the real thing is humane and complements the statistical approach.

Curiously, there is no specific mention of suburban poverty.  When we purchased Poverty In Canada we expected to find some direct mention of the phenomenon since the Brookings Institution has done a lot to make it a mainstream issue south of the border.  Additionally, we can claim to have directly observed suburban poverty in Canada through social service sector study and volunteering and through living in the suburbs.  In its own modest, amateur way this blog has begun to register and aggregate information about Canadian suburban poverty so we are surprised that a big gun academic like Raphael approaches it indirectly, hasn’t chosen to name it.  Some of this may have to do with the domestic statistical sources he uses and with the fact that the definitions of suburban and urban remains somewhat vague at times for many of us.

Ultimately, all poverty is a disaster and the labels attached to it are less important than the realities of it.  Nonetheless, the experience of poverty changes over time and suburbs are a new frontier of problematic social conditions in Canada.

Seriously, buy and read this book.  Mail a copy to your political representative.  Put it on your students’ reading lists if you are a teacher.  It’s available online and through most book stores.

(60) Au contraire…

Copyright free image from Wikimedia

I was driving through Philly the other day and …blah, blah, blah, …poor people.

We thought it good form to find some content from the interwebs that contradicted our own take on the issue at hand lest we be judged smug, dismissive.  A semi-anonymous blog post from this summer fits the bill nicely and is linked to below.  It employs the relativity argument.  Not derived from Einstein’s view of the universe this is a technique beloved of those politically to the right.  A cross-comparison to global poverty is usually involved.  It is designed to shut down arguments about social policy in a developed country and is, in our experience, driven by fear, loathing and the lack of experience of life though it is usually presented as highly rational and objective.  Such positions on social matters remind us that the battle against poverty need be waged as much in middle and upper class brains as in government offices, clothing banks, soup kitchens and shelters.
Suburban poverty? The Burning Platform

(53) US 2010 census data

2010 Census data has come under analysis and it shows that the general US economy is not in the best of shape.  Curiously, the percentage rate of African American poverty is a just a tad lower than that for white Americans.  It’s hard to say off-the-cuff what this means but we see it’s enough to get this emerging downturn labelled in the mainstream media as ‘different this time’ and as a suburban recession/depression.
Welcome to the suburban depression CNBC

(35) Ottawa’s First Nations

Some new data has become available about First Nations in Ottawa.  The population is growing but becoming more spread out.  Newly arriving First Nations persons are also moving directly to suburban Ottawa in a number of cases.  The sterotype of aboriginal poverty in the centres of Canadian cities (and on reserves) might appear to be changing if this demographic development were to be looked at further.  Unfortunately, the article indicates that there is still hardship for Ottawa’s First Nations outside of the more established neighbourhoods they have lived in there.
5 things to know about Ottawa’s aboriginal community CBC

(21) Rising inequality: OECD data

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development produces a host of data directly useful for assessing social conditions.  Do we need a supercomputer to connect rising inequality and the stacked economic gains of the rich with suburban poverty and downward mobility?

Notes for individual countries are found on the OECD site (.pdf files):

Better than many for a long time but no reason to be smug: Canada
Faltering after some improvement: United Kingdom
Forget it, only Turkey & Mexico are worse for income inequality: United States
Some improvement but could do better: Australia