What are the real costs in terms of lost human potential?
We who live in paradise don’t really get to see the face of child poverty in our community unless we volunteer at the Food Bank, work in a social assistance office, or cook breakfast for kids in one of our schools. Therefore, we might carry on our pleasant lives thinking child poverty doesn’t exist. We would be wrong.
The Canadian Federation of University Women, Sunshine Coast, hopes to reveal the face of child poverty on the coast in a symposium being held on March 13, from 9am until 1pm at the Sechelt Nation Band Hall in Sechelt. The morning will begin with a keynote speech by Michael Goldberg, Research Director at the Social Planning and Research Council of BC (SPARC BC) from 1987 to 2006, and a founding member of First Call: the BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition. Mr. Goldberg has a BA in Economics and an MA in Social Work focusing on social research and community development. He is eminently qualified to provide an over-view of the situation current in BC and on the Sunshine Coast.
Can we afford child poverty? What are the real costs in terms of lost human potential, not to mention the loss of tax base when families are relegated to subsistence living? Poverty is a self-fulfilling prophecy, placing an increasing burden on health and social services, as well as legal and law-enforcement agencies. The facts show that it costs twice as much to perpetuate poverty as it would cost to reduce and eliminate it.
Mr. Goldberg’s address will be followed by a panel discussion moderated by Sandra Cunningham, board member of The Community Foundation. Included on the panel are some front-line professionals and volunteers from the agencies who see the effects of poverty on a day-to-day basis. Shelley Grainger from the Food Bank, Heather Gordon from Breakfast for Kids, and Meghan Molnar, Nutritionist for the Sunshine Coast and Powell River, will outline the increasing demand on their services. Johanna Rzepa from Coastal Health will address pre and post-natal care, and Sarah Pond from the Sunshine Coast Early Childhood Development Planning Table will assess child care. Deb Pepper from Habitat For Humanity will speak to the issue of affordable housing and Michelle Morton from The Progress Plan will present results from the extensive survey her group has recently completed on issues facing women on the coast.
Round-table discussion and questions for the panelists will fill out the morning. There is action we can take, especially in a pre-election period when politicians are hankering after our votes. The CFUW, Sunshine Coast, believes that any place in the province that claims to be paradise must eliminate child poverty.
Come out to the symposium and make your voice heard. Admission is free. Donations to the Food Bank are accepted. Coffee starts at 8:30am. For more information call 604-741-9846. Arrange for on-site child-minding at 604-740-0025.
Submitted by Mary Beth Knechtel – President Canadian Federation of University