The Poverty Push

11 11 2010

“If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.” (John F. Kennedy, speech Jan. 20, 1961)

Polling conducted around the time of Hamilton’s recent municipal election revealed the issue of poverty as one of significant importance to local voters. In fact, it led the list of burning election issues. Some found this surprising, given the economic upheavals we have faced and the uncertainties of stadium, football team, steelmaker pensions and other local challenges. How heartening to know that Hamiltonians are looking for more and better solutions to the poverty crisis. The push, it appears, is on. Media attention has been significant, and the buzz in the community has reached near vuvuzela proportions.

[Illustration: projectanalog.wordpress.com

Now that the election is over, what can we expect? Will our newly elected representatives pay heed to the significance of this issue? Are we to finally see a coordinated and concerted effort to address poverty in Hamilton? Only time will tell. We’ll have to keep the volume turned up and continue to voice our opinions. Community leaders will need to continue their efforts at collaborating in search of new and effective solutions. There is a role for each of us in the poverty push – voters and volunteers, concerned citizens and families, educators and service providers, businesspeople and students, faith communities and corporations. Whether we give voice or give time, make a donation or make a difference in other ways, we are the force behind the poverty push. We need to be informed and engaged, and to be diligent in our monitoring of Hamilton’s progress.

The rallying cry is “making Hamilton the best place to raise a child”. To get to that, we’ll need to sort out the line-ups at the hot meal programs, the staggering numbers depending on food banks, the waiting list for social services, the lack of a living wage for many, and the inertia that has allowed this community to reach this state. That’s a tall order, but essential.

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