The Parallel Parliament

Glen Pearson

Posts tagged “low-income

If You Want to Fix Poverty, Fix the Economy

Posted on October 27, 2015

HE AWOKE FROM A DEEP SLUMBER A couple of weeks ago to the sound of phone ringing incessantly, but when he answered he didn’t mind. Angus Deaton was being informed by someone on the other end of the phone that he was being awarded the Nobel Prize for Economic Science. Interestingly, it was how he shed new light on persistent poverty that earned him the credit. Or as the Nobel committee put it: “To design economic policy that promotes welfare and reduces poverty, we must first understand individual consumption choices. Angus Deaton has enhanced this understanding.” Deaton wasn’t so much focused on large market trends as on the average household and how choices are made within it. The Nobel committee has recently honoured a…

Tell Me Their Names

Posted on March 19, 2015

MOVING INTO OUR 29th YEAR AS A FOOD BANK, WE ARE learning again that the poor just aren’t who we think they are – at times not even close. There have been those traditional ways of gauging poverty where governments establish income levels and project things from there in more or less absolute terms. All this is necessary for public policy reasons, but are blunt instruments when it comes to telling us what poverty is all about today. What’s important for us to get our heads around is that, regardless of how you define the poverty line, by most measures poverty has been getting worse in Canada over the last two decades. In such a case, there’s little point in belabouring the definitions of poverty…

Mayors: Poor Choices

Posted on October 16, 2014

IT’S ALL TOO COMMON FOR CITIES ENDURING DIFFICULT TIMES to resist getting serious about poverty. They place their emphasis on economics, jobs, education, or trade – those aspects that appear more like an investment than a drag on the community like, say, social programs. But mayors are getting smarter, though it has taken them decades to get around to it. They are comprehending that even a robust economic recovery can be derailed by all those human resources that were left out – unemployed, underemployed, those suffering in mental illness, students, or the homeless. Mayors are paying attention to considerable research showing that the drag on any local economy from sustained poverty could ultimately derail any meaningful recovery or more prosperous future. As a result, we…

Poverty in Canada Has a Woman’s Face

Posted on April 17, 2014

FOUR YEARS AGO I ATTENDED AN INTERNATIONAL poverty forum with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.  We had been cooperating on an initiative for helping African girls to stay in school and he was a forceful proponent for equal opportunities in that continent for men and women. At one point he was asked what would be the one thing that he could do, if he had it in his power, to get rid of African poverty.  It was a big question, but his answer was bigger: “Invest in the women of every African country.”  The silence following that response was deafening because everyone in that room was seasoned in international development and Blair’s solution was almost breathtaking in its simplicity and scope. It’s easy…

Living Research

Posted on April 9, 2014

  OCCASIONALLY COMMUNITIES HAVE TROUBLE telling their own stories.  It often happens during times of transition, when change moves faster than a city’s ability to understand it. This is what happened in London when it came to a growing poverty problem.  While places like the London Food Bank were reporting that their clientele had climbed 40% in the last five years, London struggled to determine what was happening and what were the causes. The answers were never fully clear because the data required to get a good grasp on the problem was just not available.  Much of the data presently in use has come from Statistics Canada but was regionally based and couldn’t drill down to isolate what was really happening in our city.…

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