‘ The poor you’ll have with you al­ways’

The Compass - - TRINITY SOUTH - BY STEVE BARTLETT

The prov­ince con­tin­ues try­ing to kick poverty in the be­hind.

It slot­ted $134 mil­lion for poverty re­duc­tion in last week’s pro­vin­cial bud­get.

That fig­ure brings the to­tal the prov­ince has spent on ad­dress­ing poverty to $482.7 mil­lion since 2006.

The money for 2010 will en­deav­our to do a lot of things.

Among the ini­tia­tives is mod­ern­iz­ing hous­ing units, con­tin­u­ing fam­ily vi­o­lence in­ter­ven­tion court and help­ing peo­ple qual­ify for a pre­scrip­tion drug pro­gram.

Su­san Sul­li­van, min­is­ter of Hu­man Re­sources, Labour and Em­ploy­ment, ex­pressed con­fi­dence the mea­sures would break the cy­cle of poverty fac­ing many, plus bring the prov­ince closer to its goal of hav­ing the coun­try’s low­est poverty rates by 2014.

NDP Leader Lor­raine Michael didn’t share her en­thu­si­asm.

“A lot of the things they have listed un­der poverty re­duc­tion isn’t poverty re­duc­tion. It’s or­di­nary so­cial pro­gram­ming,” she said.

What­ever cat­e­gory they might fall in, some of the mea­sures were met favourably, es­pe­cially in­creas­ing the in­come thresh­old for the pro­vin­cial pre­scrip­tion drug pro­gram ac­cess plan.

Linda Ross, pres­i­dent and CEO of the Pro­vin­cial Ad­vi­sory Coun­cil on the Sta­tus of Women, de­scribed that mea­sure as sig­nif­i­cant.

“Be­cause what you are see­ing is that there are more peo­ple off in­come sup­port go­ing on low wage jobs, but now that the min­i­mum wage has in­creased, they weren’t re­ally ac­cess­ing the pro­gram,” she said.

Deirdre Greene of Easter Seals would have liked to have seen more done to help the dis­abled.

She told Transcontinental Me­dia fol­low­ing the bud­get speech poverty is not al­ways about low in­come.

For peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties and chronic con­di­tions, she ex­plained, the bur­den of spending can be so great that poverty be­comes a re­al­ity at a much higher in­come thresh­old, par­tic­u­larly when a par­ent has a grow­ing child.

“A child with a dis­abil­ity grows out of his wheel­chair as fast as a child grows out of a pair of sneak­ers,” Greene said. “ The con­stant high level of spending that is re­quired is a chal­lenge that can cre­ate poverty for peo­ple and fam­i­lies that aren’t in low in­come brack­ets.”

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