Color & Control:

This is Canada, isn’t it?  

How often do we hear, things aren’t what they used to be in the good old days. Is it true and why aren’t we collectively doing more about it?

As we enter the few months of 2024, many Canadians of all ages are  struggling—having a way more difficult time affording the basics.

Food banks providing hunger relief are seeing lineups and record numbers of people from priority communities and beyond asking for assistance, hampers and even toys.   

The figures from an end of year study by the Salvation Army, 2023 Canadian Poverty and Socioeconomic Analysis share some uncomfortable findings based on both the agency’s lived experience and a 1500 person survey.  

Their new nationwide study confirms: 
• Being able to afford the basics is now of deep concern for about 60% of Canadians. 
• Single parents, single persons and caregivers seem to be facing the highest degree of hardship. 
• Most concerning in the near future for many – having difficulty paying for day-to-day items such as groceries, housing, clothing and furnishings.  
• Twenty-two percent of parents reported eating less so their children or other family members could each. (44% among single parents) 
• 40% of these folks report mental health challenges and nearly 1/3 claiming difficulties with physical health. 

Findings also report that the shelter programs supporting those who need housing, rehabilitation, substance abuse recovery or palliative/long-term care are bursting at the seams. 

While the report suggests hope for easing of the financial pressures later in 2024, Canadians are said to be rather pessimistic  about what’s coming next which is not a great way to begin the new year with family and friends. 

Of significant note, the Salvation Army, one of many support organizations, was able to help more than 2.7 million Canadians in 2023, provide 3.9 million meals, assist 359,000 Canadians with food hampers and toys and support over 1.5 million people with food clothing or practical help. An incredible commitment, wouldn’t you agree! But where are the rest of us?

Perhaps it’s time instead for a rally cry that’ll spur each of us on to bring back Canada’s gold standard reputation for not only being polite, but for caring. 

Everyone deserves hand up not just a hand out. Let’s look at where our health and social service budgets are going and find new ways to invest in our collective futures. 

After all, this is Canada—lets show them how its done!

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