Asking questions about poverty

Poverty entails fear and stress and sometimes depression. It meets a thousand petty humiliations and hardships. Climbing out of poverty by your own efforts, that is something on which to pride yourself, but poverty itself is romanticized by fools. JK Rowling

When we are not together talking pop health, members of the TriPop group are busy with their own work, which is varied by focus and organization. Regardless of whether the work is health literacy, food security, diversity and social inclusion, addiction and mental health, chronic disease, seniors health, or at-risk families, the impact of socio-economic status rears its head over and over. For example, in western Nova Scotia, over 5000 people used food banks in March of 2012. These 5000 are our neighbours, our community members. Fellow Nova Scotians. Veterans. Mothers. Grandfathers. Toddlers.

There are a lot of myths about poverty, but what do we actually know? Quite a bit, actually. From a health perspective, the more money you make, the more secure your income, the healthier you are. Even those of us who live a more comfortable existence feel the squeeze in tight economic times.  Unexpected repairs needed for cars, so important in a rural area where you need reliable transportation to get to a job, to school, or to see a doctor, can mean less money for other things for a while.   Or the budget we used to have for groceries even a year ago doesn’t go as far as it used to, and eating well is expensive. (We live in a province where the cost of milk is twice to three times the cost of pop.) But what is belt tightening or cost cutting here and there for some, can be catastrophic for low-income Nova Scotians. In Donna’s story, for example, one of the things we noticed when she exclaims “she wants to be rich”, she means she wants to live the many of you are living now – with a job, a car, and a house.  And Donna’s not alone in her dream. According to Make Poverty History, 1 in 10 Canadian children are poor.

This month at Changing our Picture of Health we are trying something a little different with our blog. We wanted to talk to different people about poverty – how they see it in their day to day work, they myths and misconceptions about it, and how it impacts our all of us. We’ll be posting these weekly, starting on Wednesdays. Hope you are able to read, and perhaps share your comments or information about this issue you’ve learned from your work.

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