Saturday, October 22, 2011

Investing in Social Infrastructure: Strategic & Effective Public Policy

I've come across some excellent articles and ideas I wanted to pass along. It's so frustrating to me that governments and other stakeholders don't understand that investing and strengthening the social infrastructure has so many benefits. There are so many people who are on the tipping point from a socio-economic perspective right now. We need to move fast to stop the increasing numbers of people who are being pulled down by the undertow. 

When governments strategically and adequately fund social, health and community services it benefits the recipients of those services directly by improving their quality of life, stability. participation in the labour market and other activities which benefit society.

We can't seem to get past the old school idea of infrastructure jobs as being building roads, bridges and structures. Those are important jobs and definitely contribute to our society but it is time to recognize that jobs in the social, health and community sector are of equal importance for a many reasons. One of those is the intrinsic gains and benefits to recipients, their families and communities. Another is the economic benefits of the jobs in these sectors in local communities and the larger economy of the province.

Watch the video: 
Baby boomers retire rich, young couples with kids stuck in economic squeeze: report

SASKATOON - A Canadian research institute says babyboomers are retiring as the wealthiest generation in history while couples with young children are stuck in an economic squeeze.

The Human Early Learning Partnership at the University of British Columbia released a report Tuesday calling on federal and provincial governments to spend $22 billion on social programs to fix a declining standard of living for young families.

It recommends funding a system that prevents parents from spending more than $10 a day on child care and allows for 18-month parental leaves from work.

Public policy professor Paul Kershaw, a self-professed crusader for families, released the findings in Saskatoon with colleagues from the University of Saskatchewan. He said he wants the report to be part of the Nov. 7 provincial election debate in Saskatchewan.

Betty Ann Adam, The StarPhoenix October 18, 2011
Canada needs a "New Deal for Families" to solve the enormous social and economic upheaval caused by soaring housing costs, creators of a study released Tuesday at the University of Saskatchewan say.

The generation raising children today has less money and time than Baby Boomers, despite a doubling of the Canadian economy since 1976, said Paul Kershaw, a family policy expert from the University of British Columbia.
The lack of time for children is showing up in a growing number of kindergarten pupils who are not ready for school. One in three are not ready in areas of social, emotional, and physical health or language and communications skills, Muhajarine said.

The solution is a "New Deal for Families," built on three major public policy changes, Kershaw argues.

The New Deal includes:
  • extending benefits for new parents to 18 months from 12 for all single and dual earner households, including self-employed and unemployed parents and should provide a minimum benefit that would eliminate poverty for families with children under 18 months, he said.
  • providing $10 per day childcare and finally, promoting flextime to help employees combine work and family, making them more productive while at work. 
  • providing incentives for employers to limit work weeks to 35 hours.
The status quo is costing the Canadian business community $4 billion per year, according to estimates reached by researchers in collaboration with British Columbia chartered accountants.
Kershaw believes the plan would control health care expenditures, control crime, reduce education spending and prepare a labour force that will be more job-ready when they graduate because they’re more school-ready at the outset.

Paul Kershaw. 
The business community gets it, why not governments? 
Vancouver Board of Trade (VBOT)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Homelessness Action Week - October 10 – 16, 2011.

Poverty is a weapon of mass destruction. Homelessness is a weapon of mass destruction. Unemployment is a weapon of mass destruction. – Dennis Kucinich

Starting today is a most important week of note, the week to StopHomelessness in Metro Vancouver. Hmm, maybe we can aim higher than that.

Find out more information here:

Learn more about the root causes of homelessness and about the solutions.
Volunteer at an event in your community.

In 2010, the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) passed a resolution calling on the province to adopt a comprehensive poverty reduction plan. 

BC has led Canada in child poverty for 8 years in a row and the BC government is holding fast on not creating a poverty reduction plan. 

Advocates and service organizations report there's been a "dramatic" increase in the number of women and children relying on the Union Gospel Mission for their meals. "The line-up was down the alley and around the block as hundreds more people than expected turned out for Thanksgiving dinner on Vancouver's downtown eastside."

As we head into municipal elections in November 2011, we can all do our part by asking candidates and parties what they plan to do to reduce/eliminate homelessness in our communities. There has been enough talk, it's time for action.

Here are some additional links:


Video: What is Poverty Costing Us in BC? 

SHARE Share the video at

LEARN Read the report at

TAKE ACTION Look up your MLA using the MLA Finder at and call, email, or visit their office (report in hand) to tell them that the cost of poverty is too high. Contact them while they’re in their home constituencies over the summer and let them know we want to see a poverty reduction plan in their party’s platform ahead of the next election.

TAKE MORE ACTION Join the call for a poverty reduction plan for BC, and get even more ideas from our Take Action page.

Government holds fast against provincial anti-poverty plan
Katie Hyslop September 29, 2011,

"We don't have a plan. We have a number of programs, some of them work, some don't, but if we had a plan we wouldn't see children living in deep, intergenerational poverty," Turpel-Lafond says, referring to the call for a provincial poverty reduction plan. B.C. is one of only three provinces that has resisted implementing a poverty reduction plan.