A grotto is simply a shallow cave or underground passage, a chamber. In more than one culture, grottoes are viewed as places of mystery and have associations and embellishments relating to spiritual life. A fashion for decorative, Christian-themed grottoes developed in the eighteenth century in Europe and grottoes near water or built into gardens are often tourist sites. We came across the grotto as a metaphor of suburban poverty and homelessness in a paper about Peel Region recently.
Homelessness in the suburbs: engulfment in the grotto of poverty
Studies in Social Justice Volume 6, Issue 1, pages 103-123, 2012
via Homeless Hub – 21-page .pdf file
Some data for poverty in the Greater Toronto Area, …a place now largely dominated by suburban approaches to life.
Poverty pockets growing in suburbs Toronto Star
image: Danielle Scott via Wikimedia Commons
If we take a look at Canada in the 1950s and 1960s we see a country that had higher taxes than today on a smaller population and smaller economy. Yet rates of economic growth were higher, university was cheaper and the expectation of improvement in working condtions and wages was robustly held by most people. Thanks to decades of neoconservative economics and neoliberal politics the taxes are down, university is expensive, the economics are shaky and expectations are in the toilet.
What does this mean? Who benefits? Who is harmed? Does it have to be this way?
Towards a more equal Canada: a report on Canada’s economic and social inequality 26-page .pdf file
Ed Broadbent on rising inequality and the threat to the Canadian dream
(119) Ed Broadbent on inequality
(116) F-35s, inequality & Ed Broadbent
About ten per cent of Canadians remain in persistent, tricky situations of poverty and social exclusion from a total population of 33.4 million. To learn a little more about the matter try listening to this CBC podcast from December 2011 featuring poet Lorna Crozier.
The Current: We are the 10% – Poverty in Canada cbc.ca 27:28
Photo: Tobi 87 via Wikimedia Commons
We had hoped to provide links to more academic papers regarding suburban poverty and related topics by now. These papers, and the journals and institutions that publish them can pose payment and access issues at times for general internet users. These important documents, research efforts from academics who do the detailed, heavy lifting when it comes to understanding the world around us, will get more attention in future postings.
An example is the item linked below. It approaches the under representation of visible minority newcomers in the shelter system in Canada. It has been assumed that this reflects a strategy of residential crowding based on family and ethnic connections.
The paper is from Canadian Studies In Population 38, No. 1–2 (Spring/Summer 2011), pages 43–59. The author, Micheal Haan of the University of Alberta, asks if this observation represents a “hidden homelessness.”
Does immigrant residential crowding reflect hidden homelessness?
photo: See Ming Lee via Wikimedia Commons
Hungercount 2012 has been released. Produced by the national umbrella association for Canada’s food bank community. Data for all provinces are included along with details of methodology. No, it isn’t really getting any better.
Like it says, over 882,000 people use food banks in Canada. What’s with that, are we going for a million?
Food Banks Canada | Banques Alimentaires Canada website
Hungercount 2012 36 page .pdf file
See also: (72) Foodbankistan
Maybe somewhere there is a sharp individual thinking up a way to derive a clever financial instrument from the monetization of income inequality. They’d do well to rent some office space in Vancouver, British Columbia. Canada’s west coast big city was recently the subject of a report called Divisions and Disparities in Lotus-Land: Socio-Spatial Income Polarization in Greater Vancouver, 1970-2005. Produced by University of Toronto academics at the Cities Centre, this one should be a real embarrassment to the system in a truly over priced city that prefers we all just talk about the scenery nearby.
Vancouver’s middle class shrinks, poverty spreads along SkyTrain
Metro coverage of report
Divisions and disparities in Lotus-Land
Full report in .pdf format from neighbourhoodchange.ca
photo: Tom Harpel via Wikimedia Commons
We’d like to think that despite the influence of neoconservatism, capital export, a colonial heritage, general public apathy and the pressures of a global economy that our fellow Canadians are reasonable and intelligent enough to find the best possible approaches to the issues of the day by themselves. Should confusion set in we could seek an external role model. We could choose much, much worse than Norway. In comparing the two a mix of similarities and differences emerges, both countries are wintery places with powerful neighbours in which natural resources play a big role in the economy, especially oil.
Canadians better feel a little uneasy when comparing their management of resources to how it’s done in a much smaller, more socially and politically cohesive Norway. Norway has managed to amass a money chest via its oil resources in the form of a $600 billion dollar bank account. Alberta is sitting on less than twenty. The royalty charged on a barrel of oil from Canada is a fraction of what Norway charges.
As the comparison expands, the greater the need for Gravol becomes on the part of the Canadian reader. Norway is plowing its oil wealth into health, education, culture and infrastructure. Oh to be in their shoes and have their problems! Canadians are standing around carping about their taxes, buying lotto tickets and racking up credit card debt, selling resources cheap to whoever comes along and praying the real estate market doesn’t crash. Norway, meanwhile, develops itself in substantial ways for the long term.
While looking into this topic, suburban-poverty.com came across a series in The Tyee, a west coast publication. If suburban-poverty.com could sponsor a major journalism award with a fancy gala evening, speeches and $100,000 prize, well, this series would be exactly the type of thing we’d nominate.
Secrets to Norway’s Petro-Wealth: Lessons for Canada?
Nine part series – The Tyee
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
The I-word is rapidly becoming one of the defining terms of this era. Inequality certainly spurred on the Occupy movement and with a little research can be seen to have a powerful skewing effect on just about everything from high levels of student debt in Canada to the American mortgage crisis. The enhanced inequality we are talking about also comes at a time of bank bailouts, disaster capitalism, rising food and commodity prices, the offshoring of manufacturing from North America and Europe to China and elsewhere. Even a child can deduce that the neoconservative policies favoured in the West for almost four decades now are the engine of inequality.
Against this nasty picture it was heartening to read the item linked below from the iPolitics site. It was written by one Diana Carney. She is a VP at Canada 2020 a progressive think tank based in Ottawa. Ms. Carney takes a look at Canada’s data and finds the picture not quite as bad across the board as the general public feeling would suggest it is. Youth and single people are worse off than families in Canada in terms of income gains in recent years, for example. The Americans are also much worse off than Canada for inequality. Still, there’s no reason to be smug here or in the other mature industrial democracies, let alone in developing countries.
Perhaps Mrs Carney, and not her Goldman-Sachs alumni of a husband should be running the Bank of England?
Inequality: defining the defining issue of our time