So a new report indicates that in Canada, the gap is widening between the rich and the poor, despite that Canada’s economy is soaring – our economy is the fastest growing in the G-8. A quarter million people in Canada are homeless, 1.7 million households live on less than $16,400 (USD – the US report looked at global figures) a year, and the majority of these are households run by single women. 5.5 million live on less than $8200 a year (24% of all tax filers, and again, the majority of these are women.
Two problems I have with this report – there is no mention of race at all, and whether poverty also follows racial lines in Canada (I’m quite certain it does, considering Canadian aboriginals are among the poorest of the poor in Canada according to other stats I’ve look at), and the mention of gendered poverty is so minor I missed in the first time I skimmed the report – and I was looking for it. In fact, this mention in the report is so minor that CBC did not pick it up as a point worth noting in any of the 3 stories they have on their website about it. 1 – 2 – 3.
In any case, this is troubling news. As our Employment Insurance program is sitting on a billion dollar surplus, only 3 out of 10 unemployed women are eligible for benefits according to current criteria, which disadvantage workers with part-time or irregular hours. Social programs have been cut and access reduced, and tax breaks have not helped the poor.
So, Canada’s dirty secret is that poverty has been increasingly feminized (and, I’m guessing, racialized, although apparently race isn’t important as a point of analysis for this report!). Social programs are increasingly out of reach for the poor due to reduced spending in the service of increasing Canada’s GDP – in fact, it appears as though one of the primary reasons for Canada’s economic success (GDP has increased 55% in the last 10 years) is BECAUSE of social program funding cuts, meaning the success of the country is dependent on the poverty of women (of colour)! Meanwhile, the Harper government has slashed the jugular of the Status of Women Council – the very group that likely would be drawing attention to this problem! The majority of poor in Canada are women (of colour), yet our top newsgroup sees no need to even mention this in their 3 articles about this report!
As you can tell, I’m sure, I am completely disgusted by this news. I guess I’ll have to write another letter…