Thursday, August 24, 2006

Care for the Marginalized

We are vacationing in the richest province in the country. ANd yet, on the front page of today's paper I read:

OTTAWA - Oil-rich Alberta may be rolling in dough, but the cash is not finding its way into the pockets of welfare recipients whose meagre incomes come nowhere near the poverty line, says a major national report on welfare incomes being released today.

This is on the heels of other stories earlier this week talking about the increasing problems around affordable housing in the province. Stories that show how homelessness is becoming more than a lowest income problem :

EDMONTON - Dressed in a white linen suit jacket, blue tie and black dress pants, Pastor Doug Atha began explaining why he was among Grande Prairie's many
homeless this summer.
In June, his landlord decided to raise his monthly rent from $1,000 to $1,500. Unable to afford the increase, Atha and his wife bounced from his daughter's home to a borrowed trailer to a house-sitting gig, before finally finding a temporary rental unit this month, he told Conservative MLAs Monday.

THis is the shadow side of an economic boom. This is when we see that good times put a higher level of onus on all of us to ensure that everyone is cared for appropriately. Why, in a province that has more money that they know what to do with --so much that they issued rebate cheques to all its citizens last year-- is it considered appropriate to provide an income less than half of the poverty line to people who, for whatever reason, have found themselves on teh lower end of society? WHy is it considered alright to allow housing costs to soar uncontrolled while incomes don't grow as fast simply because supply outstrips demand?

Economic times are good here -- for some. It stands as a test and as a marker what happens to those who aren't counted among the "winners".

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