Advocates ask Edmontonians to keep poverty front of mind
A new Edmonton campaign says it can end poverty for the next generation with help from today’s Canadians.
According to EndPovertyEdmonton, 550,000 Albertans live in poverty.
Vanessa Gladue and her son are clients of Boyle Street Community Services.
“I had a job, I had everything, I was working,” the mother recalled. “But then I got stuck in addictions, so I kind of lost my way.”
The pair has gotten through the year with help from government programs.
EndPovertyEdmonton wants voters to keep such initiatives top of mind amongst political candidates.
“The numbers show progress, but what's required is sustained political commitment,” Mayor Don Iveson said Tuesday.
“We want to encourage all Edmontonians to ask candidates in this upcoming election about their position and their party's position on these poverty issues.”
About 3.4 million Canadians live in poverty. Although that number has fallen—from 12.1 per cent in 2013 to 9.5 per cent in 2017—EndPovertyEdmonton has identified several “game changers” it believes would address the issue.
“We think there’s a myriad once people start to talk about and look at what is possible under many different realms,” EPE Co-Chair Michael Phair said.
One program the group has looked at is the low-income bus pass. The program is funded provincially on a year-to-year basis, leaving it potentially vulnerable with an election of a new government.
EPE also wants more child care, affordable housing and mental health services, or, as Phair said, “social things that are very important for us as a society.”
Ending poverty would also have economic benefits. A 2012 report by Vibrant Communities Calgary estimates poverty costs Alberta between $7 billion and $9.5 billion each year through things like health costs and lost tax revenue.
But it’s people like Gladue who are the main inspiration of change.
“I needed help. That's all I knew because I knew I couldn't do it alone,” she recalled.
Edmontonians can learn more about the public awareness initiative online.
With files from Timm Bruch