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Poverty is an issue which society faces each day. It is a constant struggle that cannot be ignored. Defeating poverty would take great efforts and contributions from all. Canada and the third world are examples of countries which are experiencing poverty, yet each differ in different ways.
Once seeing the multitudes of condominiums, expensive restaurants, and streets jammed with cars, one would never see Canada as a place suffering from hunger, lack of food or clothing. Yet poverty exists. Poverty in Canada cannot be compared to that of a 3rd world country, since many of the poor have access to transportation and television. What people lack is ability to see the inadequate nutrition overcrowded housing and chronic unemployment. ?A visitor to Canada from Africa or Asia, if told if told that there is a widespread poverty in this country, might find the statement hard to credit.?(Schlesinger 89) In most places, the poor are thought to be isolated, away from shopping zones as well as residential areas. They are seen as a crowded cluster, living in shantytowns drinking a bottle of whisky, uselessly lying there in search for a job, or some method of employment. This is just one of the stereotypes given to the poor person, we must first define poverty.
Individuals and families whose financial resources and/or other resources (including educational and occupational skills, the condition of the environment at home and at work, and material possessions) fall seriously below those commanded by the average person or family in society, are in poverty. (Schlesinger 105)
The ?poverty line?, is a method used by the government to determine the number of poor people living in a certain area. It is based on an individual?s income. Anyone below the annual level of income is classified as being poor.
Who Are Our Poor?
The Special Senate Committee on Poverty, using a poverty line, calculated that ?approximately five million Canadians live in poverty? (NCW 10) Studies show various groups in society tend to be poorer in comparison to others. Over 1 million Canadians who work are poor. The working poor are usually employed in service sales, farming, fishing and clerical jobs characterized by low pay, limited opportunities for advancement, and instability. It is said ?1 person in every eight who lives alone is member of the working poor.? (NCW 6) The second highest group is individuals that live in poverty are the elderly. 500 000 elderly people in Canada are poor. Many of them, live on fixed amounts from pension. They rely on transfer payments from the government as their main source of income. Old Age Security, Guaranteed Income Supplements and Spouse Allowances are the basic public pensions for elderly persons, but they still find themselves 15% below they poverty line. The third group of poor people living in poverty is the unemployed. There are approximately 480 000 unemployed people in Canada. Unemployment insurance provides benefits for those who have been employed and contributed and then lost their jobs; it cannot help the disabled elderly or those tied down by parental responsibilities that are not part of the labor force. Disabled persons make up the next largest category of poor people. There are 460 000 disabled people presently living in poverty. It is very difficult for a disabled person to find work since they are constantly prone to discrimination. Conditions will not change until the attitudes of others change. Single-parent families are the next in line to face the struggles set down by poverty. Over 150 000 single parent families are poor. ?About on in every four marriages end in divorce.? (Schlesinger 56) These parents cannot afford the expenses for daycare facilities as well as lunchtime and after school supervision for their child therefore, and required staying home. They can receive up to $500 a month in Family Benefits and Baby Bonus. Finally, the last category or group, which live in poverty, is the Canadian Indians. 105 000 Canadian Indians are unemployed. Their housing units are overcrowded and ?, have no running water. Available social services do not develop Indian people either individually or as a whole.
Why are some Canadians Poor?
After acknowledging which Canadians are poor, we ask ourselves why them? There basically 5 broad categories which each can be placed in.
1) Those who are not able to work because they are too old, too young, disabled, or tied down by social responsibility.
2) Those who are able and qualified to work but can not find it.
3) Those who are not equipped to fill available job either because they are undereducated. (Immigrants have language barriers) Or, because they?re old skills have become outdated.
4) Those social and personal problems have brought them to a point of self-defeating discouragement.
5) Those who are underemployed, underpaid, or unable to get a fair price for what they have to sell. (Ex. Farmers)
What is being done?
There are many social programs available to help the poor. However, there are always some conditions of eligibility. Others depend on the individual s income, the household income and participated on the labor market.
Poverty in Third World Countries
In 1994 more than one billion people live in absolute poverty. This means they cannot afford essential nutrition, clothing, and shelter. India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Africa are most known for their third world one can state and acknowledge that there is little hope for change. It has reached the state where citizens have given up on trying. Yet are they the one?s to blame? For every time they have tried to improve their standards of living, they have only experienced failure.
Poverty in third world countries does not occur overnight. There are many signs that reveal if a county is underdeveloped. The most popular symptoms, which may also be in the most evident, are hunger and malnutrition. ?In most low income nations food supplies are at or below the minimum required to feed the population.? (Aubert 70) In poor countries distribution of food is not equal. The wealthier citizens are able to receive twice as much food as compared to those of the lower class. Diphtheria, Leprosy, Yellow fever and Kwashiorkor are examples of children?s diseases due to the lack of nutrition (protein). Fighting these types of diseases has become a problem among the people of poverty. A great deal of deaths has occurred because of these overpowering diseases, which is one explanation of poverty?s overpopulation rate.
The men and women of poverty believe that one way to fight poverty is by having children. Their theory behind this statement is that by having more children they all will be able too work, either on farms or in the city. It is these children who ?represent the labour an income the poor need to survive especially in old age?. (Bender 121) People in wealthier countries usually think that people are poor because of bearing too many children. Surprisingly enough it is the opposite way: people have many children because they are poor.
Another sign, which is just as important as over population, is unfair land and food distribution. Developing countries (known as third world) such as Indonesia and Peru depend on their land for farming which will bring employment to the city. The problem though is that rent costs are too high and the wages are low. This results in most of the pay going towards the land, therefore leaving no money to be sent for the family to buy food. ?The cost of food imported to developing countries is controlled by multinational companies? (Aubert 94) People who work for low pay may not always be able to afford food at whatever price it maybe. It is these people who eventually end up developing a disease from malnutrition or starvation and eventually die. Even though food is bought into the country, it is not distributed evenly among the population. Some may be receiving twice as much calorie intakes than needed as compared to those who don?t receive any at all. Which goes to show that if one is able to pay then they are able to eat, if not they go hungry. Low income salaries also results in no education for the children and harmful living condition such as bad situation and poor shelter.
What is being done?
In order for those problems to be resolved programs must be created to promote development in countries such as Africa, and parts of Asia. Overpopulation must be controlled and resource development should be focused on. Programs such as World vision Canada, Green Peace, UNICEF, and Oxfam have already begun to help these countries in need. Since the government has been force to decrease their spending on health and education these non-government organisations had decided to take it upon them selves to help out the poor. (Bender 82) A popular way in which their organisations are able to receive the money to help out is through the public. By sponsoring children in developing countries, the monthly donation will be used towards immunising children, providing loans for communities to begin income projects, teaching literacy, providing the children with an education and educating women on basic health, nutrition and family planning. ?Family planning is one effective way of helping development in third world countries.? (Bender 97) If there are fewer births, the government will not have to supply as many schools, hospitals, or other institution needed for raising a child. Parents? can better feed clothes and care for fewer children they have.
Although some countries are the processes of these programs they are still dependent on foreign aid. The only problem, with foreign aid is that most of the time the food is never directly given to those in need of it. For example, in Somalia 80 percent of the food ended up in the hands of the military officers and government officials. (Aubert 119) This able to explain why there are still so many people going hungry? Yet for those who are lucky enough to receive it, it does improve their standard of living and gives hope to do well in the future.
In order for future development of third world countries one most consider new technologies. ?Technology has always been directed to the North since progress is always noticed.? (Bender 22) These nations have preferred to ignore countries such as Africa since their modern skills may be more successful elsewhere. If technologies were to be created in third world countries which the North already has for some years of these utilities one already may notice that it won?t be cheap. Thousands of dollars must be spent. Once again the same problem exists: there is not enough money to provide all of these commodities which may help the development of the third world nations.
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