LETTER: Over half of local households earn less than provincial cost of living

Dear Picton Gazette,

In 1992, the United Nations designated October 17th as the “International Day for the Eradication of Poverty”.

In that context, and with October 17th approaching, it’s important to note that almost 14 per cent of Prince Edward County residents live in poverty; and that The County has the second highest rate of food insecurity in Ontario.

Over 50 per cent of households in PEC earn less than the average provincial cost of living.

And roughly half of renters in Prince Edward County spend more than 30 per cent of their income on housing… 30 per cent being the Canadian threshold for affordability. The Covid19 plague only exacerbates these harsh, unwelcome circumstances.

Fortunately, we in The County are blessed with not-for-profits, volunteer associations, service clubs, and charitable organizations dedicated to mitigating local poverty and providing opportunity for our most vulnerable.

The Prince Edward Learning Centre, The County Foundation, Community Living Prince Edward, The Hub Child & Family Centre, Kate’s Rest on Big Island, are among those stalwart entities deserving our community appreciation and continued municipal support.

We can also bolster these local efforts at senior levels of government.

Reducing administrative hurdles, plus a provincial moratorium on the cancellation of any Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Program benefits during this pandemic, should be seriously considered.

Reviving the Ontario pilot project on an assured basic income would be good too.

Federally, the 2018 “Opportunity for All – Canada’s First Poverty Reduction Strategy” should be accelerated; and with more emphasis on gender, diversity and inclusion statistics. Once again, in my view, a basic livable income for all Canadians should be the centerpiece goal.

In brief, October 17th should be an important day of awareness and acknowledgment regarding poverty.

Even if only to remind ourselves that it helps all of us to help each other.

Sincerely,

Bill Roberts

Sophiasburgh