Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Poor Pick Up The Tab

The bill for Stephen Harper's Wonderful World of Austerity is coming due. Nick Fillmore writes in The Tyee:

The austerity program and other government cuts have had disastrous consequences for millions of Canadians. According to a July report by the Canadian Medical Association, there are staggering disparities in life expectancy based on the amount of education a person receives. Residents of rich neighbourhoods live an average of 86.3 years, while those living in a poor neighbourhood average only 65.5 years, a difference of 21 years.

Meanwhile, Canadians grow increasingly hungry. In March 2012 882,188 people received food from a food bank in Canada -- an increase of 2.4 per cent over 2011 and 31 per cent higher than in 2008, when austerity measures were launched.

Children are not spared austerity's impacts. According to UNICEF's most recent report, out of 29 top countries, Canada ranks in the bottom third for relative child poverty.

It's classic Conservative policy, borrowed from Mike Harris. It's called downloading costs. And what that really means is that the costs are downloaded on the poor -- which flies in the face of international agreements Canada has signed:

When it comes to complying with international law concerning the rights of its citizens, Canada is a rogue state. We have signed international laws that oblige us to provide certain benefits to all citizens. This means ensuring the right to adequate standards of living, including access to food, housing and clothing; the right to participation in the labour force and community; as well as providing citizens with the opportunity to report violations of these rights.

However, importantly, the Harper government has neglected to adopt the part of the Covenant that would establish a complaints mechanism that would allow groups or individuals to go to the UN to protest the treatment they receive. They've made sure the process doesn't work and that there will be no complaints.

While they cut, they game the system in favour of the rich and feather their own nests. Meanwhile, the poor pick up the tab.


The Mound of Sound said...

There are many factors driving that disparity. Every 20 to 30-year old who succumbs to an overdose in the downtown east side skews those figures. Those who succumb to longer-term death by substance abuse - alcohol and tobacco, skew those figures. Violence and dependence on crime skew those figures. The lack of proper food, shelter and clothing impacts those figures.

As they've found in the States it's the large segment who die prematurely of unnatural causes that account for most of the disparity. But, then again, what do we expect from an entire section of society that we have discarded?

Owen Gray said...

And to assuage their guilt, Mound, the powers that be write those folks off as morally defective.

Anonymous said...

Sadly, George Carlin's American dream has become the Canadian dream.

Owen Gray said...

Carlin is right: "It's called the American dream because you have to be asleep to believe it."

And that's what Mr. Harper wants to do -- put people to sleep.