Poverty

By Moscovitch, Dr Allan | Canadian Review of Social Policy, January 1, 2015 | Go to article overview

Poverty


Moscovitch, Dr Allan, Canadian Review of Social Policy


Poverty

Jim Silver, Halifax: Fernwood Books, 2014.

Jim Silver's book on Poverty published by Fernwood Books in 2014 is in a series that they have titled "About Canada". It's a little book, in a format the size of a large index card, about a big subject. The organizing principle he uses is a division between poverty as a "shortage of income", and what he refers to as "complex poverty." Two key themes are the relationship between poverty and employment, and poverty and children. In Chapter 2, the book does a quick review of the numbers, focusing on the after tax Low Income Cutoff or LICO data with some comparison to the after tax Low Income Measure data. A key point that the book makes is that although the incidence of poverty has declined over the last 15 years, the numbers of people in poverty have remained at 3 million or more for 35 years. Although he does not focus on it, this result is in part because of the level of immigration over the period. He also points to the worrying level of poverty amongst Aboriginal peoples and racialized Canadians.

A chapter on neo-liberalism, focuses attention on the changing character of the economy in Canada and in particular on employment, on the changes in federal government social programs, and on the changing nature of the ideology of poverty. Perhaps it's the limits of space in a short book, but while the decline in manufacturing jobs is important, the book makes little mention of people who are poor and outside of the labour market: people living with disabilities, and single parents, mostly women raising children. The changes in federal social policy are also important, but they are only a part of the complex structure of the welfare state. The chart on page 55 which highlights the decline in federal social spending over the past 35 years should be expanded to include spending by provincial/territorial and municipal governments. …

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