A five-part, in depth look at children, poverty and mental health in Hamilton, Ontario is underway at cbc.ca. If the first segment is anything to go by this will be an impressive piece of feature journalism on a very important topic. Even moderate exposure to poverty has implications for community mental health because of its effect on childhood development. Hamilton’s children will be the first generation to grow up there as citizens of a fully post industrial community. Where those children go so goes Hamilton. A picture of the conditions and issues faced by Hamilton’s children is assembled by Denise Davey based upon key statistics and time spent with families. Some of the best cared for of children are found in Hamilton but even newer neighbourhoods “up the mountain” as Hamiltonians say, are home to children in problematic situations.
A twenty minute segment on Huffington Post last fall discussed a trend in the US mainstream media to attach heroin to the emergence of suburban poverty. It is said that a shift from prescription pain killer use and abuse to heroin consumption is under way. The horrors of 1970s New York City were invoked. Detroit cited. Fear suggested and dismissed in turns.
The segment mixes HuffPo’s amateur style with the traditional alarmism of mainstream media leaving the viewer with mixed feelings as to the reality behind the segment. Even though it is of laughable quality, disorganized and glitch-containing there is a discussion of suburban poverty here so the segment is the subject of this posting. Take it only as a possible starting point on the matter. A relationship between a rapid rise in poverty and a rapid rise in the use of heroin might make some intuitive sense but in this rich topic area the truth is not always straightforward.
image: Wikimedia Commons
CBC radio program Ontario Today invited McMaster University professor Wayne Lewchuck to the studio at the end of January to talk about precarious employment here. The long, steady growth of this trend has encouraged the province to pass laws offering some protection to those working precariously. Is it enough?
Living on part-time, temporary work 50:03
This is a strong podcast with contributions from listeners and Ontario’s Minister of Labour as well as Professor Lewchuk.
The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives blog grades Canada F for the growth and scale of precarious employment here compared to other developed countries.
Grading Canada’s Economic Recovery: more employment in Canada is precarious
A York University/Torstar survey shows a majority of Canadians recognize most of the components of precarious employment and that they make Canada a less fair place.
Precarious employment in a ‘less fair’ society troubles Canadians: study
Metro (Toronto edition)
image: CBC Radio logo 1940 – 1958 via Wikimedia Commons
Canadian authors concerned about mass surveillance
The Day We Fight Back: calling for an end to mass surveillance
Just released is a high level report on food insecurity in Canadian households and what the best policies might be for doing something about it. Data for the report is for 2012 and includes this fact: “four million Canadians, including 1.15 million children, lived in households that struggled to afford the food they needed.” The report, from an international and interdisciplinary team, points out that the majority of food insecure people and families are working.
PROOF: research to identify policy options to reduce food insecurity
Links to full report in English or French
Household food insecurity in Canada 2012
After two years aggregating material on suburban-poverty.com we aren’t surprised when some new level of detail emerges about the constant stress and inconvenience of poverty. One day into 2014 and we are learning about bank machine deserts. Even when doing something as relatively simple as accessing your own money for some basic errand social difficulty can assert itself.
Distance exerts a tyranny over those not doing particularly well as we see in data emerging in the UK about income and bank-machine locations. There are some 269 areas where low income people are more than a half mile from the nearest bank machine that doesn’t charge them for withdrawals. This represents a slight improvement from an earlier estimate of free cash machine scarcity for the UK but a government poverty adviser took exception in a piece in today’s Guardian to the difficulty low income people face in accessing their own money.
It looks like there is a need for some regulation of fees and machine accessibility in the UK. Apparently some seven million people in the country live almost completely off cash which is usually needed more by those on low incomes.
image: One Half 3544 via Wikimedia Commons
This posting introduces readers to a British anti-poverty effort called Church Action on Poverty. The site puts forward a position seen to be directly in opposition to UK social policy, austerity, and the nation’s rising income inequality.
A youth worker in Edmonton, Alberta has taken to social media hoping to show the world what he sees nearly every day. Some $60,000 has apparently also been raised in support of the at-risk youth population in Edmonton by Mark Cherrington’s Tweets.
Some of his postings are snapshots of troubled lives and so they appear to have begun to generate some controversy. Images attached to the brief descriptions of the lives he encounters are being interpreted by some onlookers as violations of appropriate social work boundaries. Decide for yourself:
Mark Cherrington on Twitter
Major polling data has been included in a Toronto Star series that indicates the weakening of the middle class is not exaggerated. The series looks into the matter of social cohesion in Canada from a large-scale, sociological perspective.
image: via Wikimedia Commons