Liv­ing be­low the poverty line

The Compass - - OPINION - — Wanda White writes from Broad Cove, CBN

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.

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