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Here are the numbers: according to updated data on the national poverty line (the Market Basket Measure) there are currently more than 189,000 Calgarians living below the poverty line. That’s over 12 per cent of people in our city who cannot meet their basic needs, and that’s before the pandemic started.
Early indications from the Canadian Poverty Institute show that poverty is on the rise. In Calgary, managing an economic downturn and a pandemic this year has left thousands more on the cusp of poverty.
“We know that poverty isn’t just about income,” says Meaghon Reid, Executive Director of Vibrant Communities Calgary. “As we fiscally reckon with our new reality it is vital that we commit to investing in our community through poverty reduction work. COVID-19 has presented us with a lot of harsh challenges, but it’s also presented us with an opportunity to accelerate our poverty reduction strategy.”
There are many things that contribute to poverty and just as many solutions. Calgary’s Community Affordable Housing Advocacy Plan shows we’re in need of 15,000 new affordable housing units, and more than 100,000 households are forecast to be in housing need by 2025. Literacy rates are another indicator of poverty, and low literacy rates are increasing among youth. According to Statistics Canada, almost one in seven Canadians report food insecurity. Mental health concerns remain high as the pandemic continues to impact everyday life.
Calgary’s poverty reduction strategy, Enough for All, represents a path forward, and we call on Calgarians to join in the work.
His Worship, Mayor Naheed Nenshi, has once again proclaimed October as End Poverty Month to raise awareness of poverty and poverty reduction work in Calgary. It is centred around the United Nation’s International Day for the Eradication of Poverty held every year on October 17.
Activities throughout October will amplify the voices of lived experience and highlight the root causes of poverty as well as the dedicated work related to poverty reduction efforts throughout our city. Join us to learn, engage and take action in poverty reduction in our community, including:
- Becoming more familiar with Enough for All, Calgary’s poverty reduction strategy. Whether you’re an individual or organization, come and join Wednesday lunch and learns.
- On October 17, Poverty Talks! will host Poverty is Talking, It’s Time to Listen, a virtual event from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. Advocates with current or recent lived experience of poverty will join community members to share their stories of poverty and how COVID-19 has affected them.
- Another simple way to get involved is to start a conversation – what does enough for all mean to you?