Living below the poverty line
I call on the government of Newfoundland and Labrador, educators, doctors and clergy to make these issues known.
And further, to make basic telephone, basic Internet and cable, as well as government subsidized heat, an ongoing budget priority for income support clients, seniors and the working poor.
Many years ago, the necessities of life were much simpler than today. Few people had access to such modern conveniences like a telephone, television, radio or cars.
As well, weekly doctor visits and medications were largely unheard of and payments were either overlooked or you gave a chicken, dozen eggs or a few potatoes as payment for a visit.
Food back then consisted of whatever you could grow, pick or trap.
Since the 1950s, things have improved. Everyone has at least one television, a radio and many have had a telephone for at least 30 years. These things may appear commonplace for most of us.
By 2000, nearly every household in Newfoundland had cable, Internet and computers, which is necessary to have for entertainment and school projects.
These are necessities for communica- tions with loved ones in Kuwait, Afghanistan or family in British Columbia or Alberta.
Equally as important is the need for adequate nutrition in our daily diet. Things like pop and sugar-enhanced drinks are cheaper to buy than milk.
High blood pressure, diabetes, heart attack and stroke occur more frequently among the poor due to increased stress, leading to a dependency of prescriptions rather than having fresh fruit and vegetables at their disposal.
Health Canada has listed 69 foods for a nutritionally adequate diet on their website, http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/surveill/basket-panier/qa-qr-eng.php#. The cost of providing these foods to two people for a week is at $200 (as per own calculations).
To a childless couple receiving $800-$900 per month, that may be possible. But who is paying for phone, heat in winter, lights, cable, Internet, clothing, etc.? Or where are they living that they have no other bills?
Something does not add up here and one need not be a genius to figure that out.
There is a study that sets the poverty line cut off at $20,000 per year. That same couple mentioned above gets between $8000-$9000 a year. That’s half of the poverty line cutoff.
A few months back during question period, the MHA for Bonavista North (Eli Cross) was heard plainly stating that Income Support recipients ‘get enough.’
To him and anyone else who mistakenly thinks that $800 a month is enough to live on, I say, “try it.” And try it without borrowing from friends or relatives.
This is 2014. We have a booming economy and we are a have province.
It is difficult enough going without adequate food but to not have communications with family and friends is an even greater tragedy.
Along with losing necessities, such as decent food, the ability and resources to communicate with family, friends and care givers, one begins to lose hope, drive, courage to dream of a better tomorrow and ambition. These are replaced with anxiety, depression, fear, isolation, hopelessness and physical illnesses.
To quote from the Bible, “man can not live on bread alone.”
I am urging you to make the elimination of poverty an election issue for 2015.