We’re letting governments off the hook

Recently Terrace RCMP auxiliary police officers collected $2400 in donations along with enough non-perishable food to cram four cruisers.

In one Saturday recently Terrace RCMP auxiliary police officers collected $2400 in cash donations along with enough non-perishable food  to cram four cruisers.

The donations will be warmly welcomed by the local churches food bank and their many recipients.

But every time we donate to a food bank we let our governments off the hook; we allow them to use our tax dollars as golden handshakes for CEOs paid million dollar salaries, new carpet in the premier’s office, a video to persuade us to accept the HST.

Shouldn’t we demand MPs and MLAs raise child benefits, increase welfare rates, improve access to high quality childcare, (another failed promise made repeatedly by both Liberal and Conservative governments) and design new housing programs for people with low incomes?

Childhood poverty increases risk of poor health, poor academic achievement, fewer recreational opportunities, sub-standard housing, higher injury rates, teen pregnancy, gang violence, and higher school drop-out rates.

In a letter Trish Garner, organizer of the B.C. Poverty Reduction Coalition, writes: “You should recognize that giving to charity is a political act that supports the government not doing enough, an act that says you’re okay with things the way they are.”

Well, I’m not okay with the way things are.

When the first food bank opened in Terrace in the 1980s we were given to believe it was a temporary measure, something to tide families over as the local Skeena mill laid off workers and padlocked its doors. We expected employment would soon get back to normal, those who wanted to work would be offered jobs by some other company.

We didn’t expect unemployment would take root, spawn food banks  all over town and became a mainstay in Terrace and the northwest.

Canada’s first-ever food bank began in 1981 in Edmonton when a few  individuals from various local non-profit organizations realized hunger was affecting the lives of many of their clients while edible food was being wasted in the community.

They dreamed of reconciling these realities by setting up a way for surplus food from the food industry to reach those going hungry.

Today, nationwide Canada has over 900 food banks.

“The need for food banks is a result of our failure as a country to adequately address a number of social issues,” says Katharine Schmidt, executive director of Food Banks Canada, “including a changing job market, a lack of affordable housing and child care, and a social safety net that is ineffective.”

Consider for a moment:

In 1989 all parties in Parliament agreed to end child poverty by the year 2000. Yet today – 22 years later – we have more food banks than ever.  Food banks have become a way of life for many. And we doggedly donate whenever asked believing we are rescuing those less fortunate.

In fact we’re perpetuating their misery and teaching them to depend upon handouts. Where’s the dignity in that?

What we should do is demand our governments – provincial and federal – actually activate a plan to end poverty.

Early in 2010 NDP MP Tony Martin introduced a private member’s bill, C545, An Act to Eliminate Poverty in Canada. Like most private members’ bills, it died. The commitment and intention of MPs to reduce poverty died, too.

As usual, elected representatives have turned back to being re-elected, cutting ribbons, photo-op announcements from Kitwanga to Kitimat, upstaging each other during question period, and frittering away valuable time parrying reporters’ questions.

And I should cover for them by donating?

 

Just Posted

Terrace River Kings schedule released

Two new teams join CIHL in upcoming season

Is this the world’s cleanest pellet plant?

An inside look at Skeena BioEnergy’s new $20 million facility

Australian gold mining giant acquires Red Chris mine

Newcrest now owns 70 per cent of the mine south of Iskut and operatorship

Prince Rupert shuttle service set to get underway

New shuttle bus between Prince Rupert and Terrace

Cats shot with BB gun in separate Thornhill incidents

The pets were shot in their own yards, neighbours say

VIDEO: Could we BE any more excited? ‘Friends’ fans go crazy for merch

Movie theatres will show select episodes to mark the NBC series’ 25th anniversary

Bodies of two missing Surrey men found near Ashcroft

Ryan Provencher and Richard Scurr have been missing since July 17

Five hedgehogs quickly adopted after being left at BC SPCA

Lucky new owners picked up their pets from Maple Ridge branch on Aug. 20

B.C. cricket players get interrupted by racist remark

Community has had protocols in place for years to respond to prejudice

Groovy B.C. wedding a throwback to Woodstock ‘69

Couple hosts themed wedding 50 years after legendary festival

Nearly 50% of Canadians experience ‘post-vacation blues’: poll

48 per cent of travellers are already stressed about ‘normal life’ while still on their trip

More women may need breast cancer gene test, U.S. guidelines say

Recommendations aimed at women who’ve been treated for BRCA-related cancers and are now cancer-free

B.C. manhunt suspects left cellphone video before they died: family

Family member says Kam McLeod, Bryer Schmegelsky recorded final wishes

Most Read