Bud­get comes up short in solv­ing real prob­lems

Truro Daily News - - OPINION -

To the editor:

Ahead of the bud­get in Tues­day’s Chron­i­cle Her­ald, sin­gle mom Cather­ine Stevens made a di­rect plea to Stephen McNeil’s govern­ment: “I just want enough food for my­self and my child.”

She is likely deeply dis­ap­pointed with the bud­get an­nounce­ment. We are too.

We’ve been re­ally en­cour­aged in re­cent months by our dis­cus­sions with se­nior staff at the Depart­ment of Com­mu­nity Ser­vices — en­cour­aged by their pas­sion and com­mit­ment to be bold in trans­form­ing the Em­ploy­ment Sup­port and In­come As­sis­tance pro­gram. Given that our prov­ince has the high­est level of food in­se­cu­rity out of all the prov­inces and that it con­tin­ues to track in the wrong di­rec­tion, we were ex­pect­ing some big an­nounce­ments in the re­cent bud­get around poverty re­duc­tion, not­ing that two of the govern­ment’s five pri­or­i­ties are healthy peo­ple and com­mu­ni­ties, and sup­port for an ag­ing pop­u­la­tion. But $2 mil­lion with an un­spec­i­fied al­lo­ca­tion doesn’t re­flect ei­ther the ur­gency or the re­al­ity. We’re in cri­sis and it des­per­ately needs political lead­er­ship and sup­port at the pro­vin­cial level.

It’s frus­trat­ing and dis­heart­en­ing to hear govern­ment say this bud­get re­flects the val­ues and pri­or­i­ties that they’ve heard from Nova Sco­tians. Be­cause if that’s true, then shame on all of us for not mak­ing hunger and poverty a big­ger pri­or­ity.

Are there some things in the bud­get that will help? Ab­so­lutely, and we’d be wrong to not ac­knowl­edge ini­tia­tives like re­duced taxes, and in­vest­ing in af­ford­able hous­ing. But does it go far enough to ad­dress the depth of poverty that ex­ists in our prov­ince? Not even close. Peo­ple look to the pro­vin­cial bud­get for hope and re­as­sur­ance. Al­most cer­tainly, the thou­sands of Nova Sco­tians who rely on the agen­cies we sup­port were look­ing for it. I think you’d be hard pressed to find any­one liv­ing with hunger and poverty in our prov­ince who found hope and re­as­sur­ance in this week’s bud­get.

Af­ter the for­mal bud­get ad­dress, Min­is­ter Karen Casey said that in­stead of car­ry­ing on the tra­di­tion of buy­ing new shoes to mark the oc­ca­sion of a bud­get an­nounce­ment, she bought shoes for a fam­ily who can’t af­ford to buy them.

It was a ges­ture that no doubt came from a good place, but it speaks vol­umes for ev­ery­thing that’s wrong in this bud­get. The very fact that a mom in our prov­ince can’t af­ford to buy shoes — and food — for her chil­dren should stress the crit­i­cal need for sig­nif­i­cant change.

Nick Jen­nery, Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor, Feed Nova Sco­tia

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.