There are so many amazing individuals, groups, taskforces and organizations working to address the causes of poverty, support those living in poverty, and decrease social barriers to health in our communities. If you are able, I recommend offering up your time and/or resources. I know I will; this challenge has been eye-opening.
A couple more notes...
- Getting around is tough but it doesn't have to be. We need active communities that support physically active lifestyles and include community spaces for people to be active (at no or low cost) such as parks, recreation centres, sidewalks/walking paths, bike lanes, open spaces, trails, waterfronts. And we need public transportation options that are affordable, reliable and link people to community spaces like recreation centres, sports fields, grocery stores, and parks. Additionally, this would help to better connect people living on a low income to other services like the library, employment services, meal programs, etc.
- Cost of eating - I love that food can bring people together - community dinners, family meals, neighbourhood potlucks, food festivals. I saw the same thing happening during the challenge with people coming together to offer and enjoy meals. However, when planning a menu and shopping on a low budget, I didn't feel the same joy I normally do around food. It was stressful, I had to cut out my normal go-to items (healthy and unhealthy 😀 ) and significantly cut down on the variety of foods I bought. It would be exhausting to have to think about food like this day in and day out, especially if you were feeding a family. Check out my previous blog about the need for increased social assistance so that everyone has access to affordable, nutritious and culturally appropriate foods.
- The working poor - According to Living Wage Canada, 70% of Canadians living in poverty are working poor. This means that they are in the workforce (they may even be working multiple jobs!) but are still not able to make ends meet. If you have not already, find out more about basic income guarantee, which will be piloted in Ontario, and the benefits it can offer individuals, families and whole communities.