I live in the province of Ontario, here in Canada. We recently held a provincial election for the office of premier (equivalent to a governor in the USA). For various reasons this election saw a shift to the conservative side and ended in the election of Doug Ford as premier for a term of 5 years.
As another example of a shift to the populist, conservative political view, there are some changes being made that will have a direct impact on the citizens of Ontario who are living in poverty. As new governments are elected which place balanced budgets, reduced bureaucracy and social reform as their focus, it usually means bad news for our friends and neighbours in need. While I’m sure our current Ontario government is well intentioned about making our province a better place to live, both economically and socially, there seems to be something lost in some of the changes we will see take place in the very near future. There is no doubt current social services in Ontario and Canada need revisions and change, but they must be done with the welfare of the most vulnerable as the priority. If the gap between the haves and have nots continues to grow, it can only lead to damaging results for everyone.
Ontario is currently conducting a three-year pilot project regarding a guaranteed basic income in three cities which involves about 5,000 to 6,000 enrolees. The project has been in operation for less than one year and yet the government has announced it will end the project in the next few months, well before any data can be gathered and examined about this very important project. The government has stated that the best way to end poverty is to find a job and has determined that the basic income project is not sustainable. When we use the term sustainable in only financial terms without looking at trying to sustain human dignity and hope for all we are in dangerous territory.
There is a need now, more than ever to stand with our sisters and brothers who are experiencing poverty and its many symptoms and voice our support of programs which can have a positive change in ending poverty. We should also remember the power that our prayers can have in bringing about the change that is truly needed and GOOD.
About the author:
Jim Paddon lives in London, Ontario, Canada and is past president of the Ontario Regional Council of the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul. He is currently chair of the National Social Justice Committee of the Society in Canada. He is married to his dear wife Pat and they have six daughters and eleven grandchildren. Jim has been a member of the Society since the 1970’s.
Opinions expressed are the author’s own views and do not officially represent those of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.