Editorials - May 19, 2023
We need to help each other
A recent article in The London Free Press cited letters sent to the Ministers of Health and Children, Community and Social Services from the London West MPP and the London-Middlesex Health Unit calling on the province to raise social assistance rates to keep pace with inflation. The Consumer Price Index has pegged food prices at 10.1 per cent higher in January of 2023 than the year before, putting low-income Canadians at the highest risk for food insecurity. The Huron Perth Public Health report released in December of 2022 expected groceries for a family of four to be $16,288 in 2023, over $1,065 more than in 2022.
The health unit reports are highlighting the risks of food insecurity, which include physical and mental health challenges, including chronic conditions, non-communicable diseases, infections, depression, anxiety and stress. It’s expensive to eat healthy food, and low-income households often cut corners buying unhealthy, cheaper options, which can lead to poor nutrition, especially for children and seniors. Food banks are reporting as much as a 40 per cent increase in usage. What isn’t tracked is how many meals people are going without eating, but school health partners know that many students do not have enough to eat.
The vast majority of Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) and Ontario Works (OW) recipients are not on social assistance by choice. (Yes, yes - we all know someone who is loafing on the system, but by and large most people would not opt to live on $1,169 a month on ODSP or $733 on Ontario Works if they could have a better lifestyle by working at even a minimum wage job and make twice that.) By keeping the rates artificially low, we are not discouraging people from applying for assistance, we are just hurting those who have no other options. – DS
Don’t it always seem to go
Often referenced by Citizen Founder Keith Roulston is the Joni Mitchell environmental anthem “Big Yellow Taxi”. The Canadian songstress says, “Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone? They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.”
Next week, the Blyth area will lose something that is sure to be missed when the Barn Dance Campout and Jamboree unplugs its guitar for one last time. Volunteers are scarce and the younger generation isn’t coming up to take over for the older one that’s handling things now. It will mark the event’s 25th anniversary and the end of an era.
These events don’t grow on trees (and if they did, Premier Doug Ford would probably bulldoze them and replace them with houses). They are the product of vision, ingenuity, hard work and sacrifice and, for some, decades of commitment. And, if a succession plan doesn’t reveal itself in a reasonable time frame, they can be lost forever.
So, as the sun sets on the Barn Dance in Blyth, the community owes thanks to the likes of Gord and Ruth Baxter, Earl and Martha Heywood and others like Doug Dietrich, Bill Simmermaker and Grant Heywood who have given so much of themselves to the event.
Use it or lose it, as they say, so we should all be reminding ourselves that if something is special to us and we want it around for years to come that we have to do our part. Because, despite the best efforts and sustained hard work of people like the members of the Barn Dance Historical Society, we can still lose an event like the Campout. – SL
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced four June by-elections to fill vacant seats in the House of Commons. The seats up for grabs are generally considered safe for the parties that previously held them.
In a democratic society like Canada, the party system is the backbone of political representation, yet it is disheartening to witness the perpetuation of “safe seats”, further entrenching the dominance of established parties and thwarting meaningful competition.
The party system, as it stands, tends to reinforce tribalism and polarization, leaving little room for collaboration and compromise. Instead of fostering healthy debates and constructive dialogue, it often perpetuates an “us versus them” mentality, limiting the representation of diverse ideas and perspectives. This narrow focus hinders progress and neglects the pressing issues that demand immediate attention.
To rectify this systemic problem, we must actively promote the integration of individuals with different backgrounds, ideas and experiences into the political process. We need more candidates who are not confined to party affiliations, but driven by their genuine desire to serve their constituents and the nation at large. By encouraging such candidates, we can pave the way for a political landscape that values the power of diverse thought, cooperation and genuine representation.
Canada is renowned for its multiculturalism, tolerance and diversity. Our politics should reflect these values. By challenging the dominance of the party system and embracing the integration of individuals with diverse backgrounds and ideas, we can reinvigorate our democracy and ensure that every Canadian has a fair and equal voice. – SBS