Make poverty housing an election issue

Published May 15 2018

To the Editor

Poverty is a serious problem for our community and the province. Poverty affects an individual’s physical and mental health as well as their dignity and quality of life. Everyone needs enough money to meet their basic needs of housing food employment education transportation childcare and other necessities.

In the City of Kawartha Lakes 13.1 per cent of all households are considered low-income of which 16.5 per cent are children age 0-17. In Haliburton County 17.2 per cent of all households are considered low-income of which 22.9 per cent are children age 0-17.
The lack of affordable housing has resulted in 1415 households waiting three to five years for subsidized housing in the City of Kawartha Lakes and Haliburton County. The waitlist for subsidized housing has tripled since 2013. In the City of Kawartha Lakes 51.6 per cent of renters are paying 30 per cent or more of their income on housing.

Food insecurity is also a serious problem in our community. More than one in 10 households are food insecure in the Haliburton Kawartha Pine Ridge district. After paying for basic needs such as rent and utilities most people with low incomes do not have enough money left over to buy adequate healthy food.
The shortage of affordable licensed childcare is another concern. We have no licensed childcare for infants up to 18 months in Haliburton County and a limited number of spaces in the City of Kawartha Lakes. The cost of childcare is also a barrier. This makes it difficult for parents to be employed or pursue education.
Every level of government has a role to play in poverty reduction so that everyone has their basic needs met with dignity and respect. Food banks charity programs and other social programs provide some short-term relief but are not designed to address the root causes of poverty.
Income is one solution to poverty. The three-year Ontario Basic Income Pilot study currently in progress to test if a basic income is an effective and sustainable way to reduce poverty. The results of the Basic Income Pilot study could reveal significant improvements in the lives of low income Ontarians.

The Ontario Basic Income Pilot is a start but more needs to be done. Other income-based solutions such as minimum wage rates that are reflective of a living wage and increases to social assistance rates. There also needs to be job creation improvements to employment standards and more affordable housing licensed childcare and public transportation.
By implementing a variety of poverty reduction strategies in Ontario everyone in our community will benefit.
Questions specific to these topics will be sent to all candidates requesting that they send back their response so they can be published by the media both online and in print form prior to the election.

Access to Permanent Housing Committee Kawartha Lakes Food Coalition and the Haliburton County FoodNet