Sunday, October 17, is the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. For the second straight year we have seen how COVID-19 is making a bad problem far worse. In addition to killing millions, the pandemic has plunged as many as 163 million more into poverty or back into poverty, according to WorldBank.org.
This year’s theme, “building forward together,” is a sharp contrast with the widespread political slogan “build back better.” In so many places, “build back better” means structural disadvantages and inequalities, particularly in the areas with the highest rates of poverty: South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. They continue to wait for basic needs: education, health care and infrastructure, even safe drinking water.
In that respect, the latest federal election has shone a bright light on one of the most shameful symptoms of poverty in Canada: the clean drinking water crisis in Indigenous communities. We continue to call upon the Prime Minister to live up to his promises and end this national failure and disgrace.
According to Canada Without Poverty, one in seven Canadians live in poverty. There are glaring examples of poverty in our communities, such as homelessness, under-housed families, the working poor, and those with limited access to health care and education and food leading to over dependence on food banks. As politicians take a fresh and overdue look at the social contract, poverty must be at the top of the list.
This October 17, do just one thing to fight poverty. That could be as small as writing an email to a local politician or donating to a food bank. Remember, small gestures of solidarity can lead to big results.
OPSEU/SEFPO President Warren (Smokey) Thomas
Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida, OPSEU/SEFPO First Vice-President/Treasurer