‘ The poor you’ll have with you always’
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.”