Letters: Awareness not politics needed

Issues of poverty are complicated and not necessarily about politics

My main reaction to “Politics of Poverty Continues” (Tom Fletcher.  28/11), was that the writer seemed more interested in the partisan politics of this complex social issue than in raising public awareness and compassion,and encouraging more effective societal responses about its debilitating long-tem effects, especially on children. I was therefore glad to see in last week’s edition a response from Kendra Milne, a B.C. lawyer knowledgable in the area of poverty.

As Kendra Milne remarks, there can be arguments about various research approaches and measurements concerning poverty in this country. Nevertheless, the evidence that a number of Canadian individuals and families experience poverty, due to a combination of factors beyond their control, is sufficiently compelling that stronger economic, social and political measures are clearly called for, even if there might be argument as to their nature and degree. This is especially true for certain groups such as some of our First Nations communities.

Unfortunately, the article conveys the judgmental notion that most people could overcome poverty by taking their own unsupported action. For example, simplistic advice is offered about moving from a high-rent urban area to a lower-rent area elsewhere. My experience, as a long-time professional worker in the social field, is that if people are in a practical position to do that, including dealing with all the associated costs and stress involved, they usually do so.  Unfortunately, as Kendra Milne points out, this doesn’t necessarily lessen their impoverishment if, as is often the case, other variables cost more or needed services are less adequate.

Circulating the public with well-researched information and a more understanding discussion about the impacts of poverty would be a better way of addressing the challenge of how we might, as a concerned society, reduce or eliminate this problem.

Mary Brown