Community Voices: Response to the budget

By guest blogger Gayle Collicutt

Another budget, another major disappointment for the thousands of Nova Scotians suffering in poverty. 

We saw a minuscule increase to ESIA rates, which does not reflect the cost of living in Nova Scotia. $5 million for the poverty reduction program that allocates funds to groups working to find ways to reduce poverty.  

What we did not see was anything to address the crisis 17% of our children are living everyday.  

As we send millions to Maine, children of the working poor, disabled, sick, and criminalized miss meals, daily. They also cannot attend birthday parties with a present in hand or join their classmates on a field trip simply because they were born into poverty.  

As other provinces addressed the poverty their children face, Nova Scotia implemented policies and legislation that benefits big business and the 1%, further exacerbating income inequality.

Lone female-led households saw a decrease in child poverty, which is fantastic. However, the NS government can take no credit for that. The federal government acknowledged the rising child poverty rates across the country and boosted the Canadian Child Tax Benefit twice since forming government.  

No one who is working, raising children, disabled, or chronically ill should have to go to a food bank.

We have residents who would be even more malnourished if it wasn’t for food banks and other NGOs focused on poverty reduction. Without the aid of these groups our healthcare would be in even more crisis. No one can stay healthy when facing hunger daily.

It's amazing we have kind and selfless folks in communities doing what they can to ensure our most vulnerable have access to food by volunteering at the numerous food banks across the province. But with lack of funding and resources, they can only do and offer so much.

Many of the folks we see panhandling are housed, even working but lack the means to access food and medication. This is utterly shameful. The government knows this and continues to prioritize infrastructure and wages in Maine over the needs of our most vulnerable.

The NS Government must increase the NS portion of the CCB. It has sat stagnant since at least 2004. They also need to enhance credits for low income working households and implement a living wage that is collaborative between business and governments.

Until the government increases ESIA rates to reflect cost of living in the province and implements a living wage that is collaborative between governments and businesses, we will remain a province that expects charity to fill the gaps where the government refuses to. This neglect creates burden on health, justice, education, the economy and child welfare.

1 in 5 children are in crisis. We must vote and advocate with them in mind. The future of this province depends on it.

Gayle Collicutt is an anti-poverty advocate in Halifax, who has experienced the struggles first-hand faced by Nova Scotians experiencing poverty. We strive to share lots of different perspectives from our community. If you'd like to contribute to our blog, please get in touch.