Calgary Herald: Elderly women, young single moms struggle with poverty in Calgary: report

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Here is a link to an article written by Yolande Cole: 


Single women over the age of 75 and female lone-parent families with children under the age of five experience low income at twice the rate of their male counterparts, a new report on poverty in Calgary indicates.

Franco Savoia, executive director of Vibrant Communities Calgary, described the study, released Monday, as “a snapshot” of the incidence of low income in the city, based on Statistics Canada’s Census 2016.

“There literally are hundreds of people across our city involved in some form of poverty reduction, but we didn’t have a reference point that we can all use, and this snapshot . . . allows us, year over year, to track,” he said. “And this is only the beginning.”

Savoia said the numbers show that immigrants are very heavily represented among low income residents, in addition to Indigenous people and women.

“One out of every two female lone-parent families with children zero to five live in that low income,” he said.

“People that are on fixed incomes, whether you’re on AISH or Alberta Works, you also fall into that category as well . . . you can’t meet your basic needs. That has huge impact on families.”

According to the report, the gender gap in low-income rates among seniors could be attributed to “longer life expectancy, the cumulative impact of earning less than males over the duration of their working years, and a greater likelihood of gaps in employment due to parental leaves of absence and familial caregiving responsibilities.”

Savoia noted that in late 2015, Alberta brought in the Alberta Child Benefit — and at the municipal level, a low-income transit pass has been introduced — policies that he expects will be reflected positively in the number of children and families living in poverty assessed during the group’s next study.

“We think that some of the policies that have been put in place are helping on one side (but) if you’re on Alberta Works or AISH, there have been no adjustments since 2012, so if you think about that . . . how do you connect the ends? It’s pretty difficult.”

Savoia added there’s a concern that the economic downturn could lead to cutbacks in supports for the low income.

“Our estimate is that poverty costs this province between $7.1 (billion) and $9 billion a year,” he said.

“The reality is, poverty is not cheap. Poverty costs our city, our province, a lot. And the question B is to say, well, we can’t afford to do those things — well, maybe we can’t afford not to, in the longer term.”

The mandate of Vibrant Communities Calgary is to guide the implementation of the city’s poverty reduction strategy, Enough for All.

“Our goal is to reduce and help people lift themselves out of poverty,” said Savoia. “We hope that this will give us some data that we can keep coming back to and saying, what’s getting worse, what’s getting better? And then more importantly, though, is what has to change?”

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  • her_perspective

    It shocks me to realize how recent the implementation of these programs was introduced. Poverty isn’t cheap but why did it take this long to implement these programs? 2015 was only 3-4 years ago, I can’t imagine how I could commute to school without the low-income transit program if I was part of an older generation.

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