Is poverty just one of those things that every society has and we just learn to live with? Don't say that to Leena Sharma Seth.

News 100 yellowBy Pepper Parr

April 28th, 2017



There were about 60 – maybe 70 people gathered around 10 tables. They were a pretty representative bunch; there were the professionals, the practitioners and the volunteers – the people in the trenches.

They were there to talk about poverty – something they want to be able to ensure that by 2026 all residents will have a livable income and as a result have access to opportunities, resources and supports to thrive and to fully participate in an inclusive Halton community.

They have their work cut out for them.

Burlington is a city that will admit that there are some serious pockets of poverty in the city and that something should be done – but social welfare is a Regional responsibility. The longest serving city council member wasn’t prepared to try free transit service for seniors on Monday’s on a trial basis.

He was prepared to let them have discounted bus tickets – but there was a sort of means test to get into that program.

The chatter around the city council horse shoe is about everyone getting in on the purchase of property – you can’t lose in that game. Get a starter property and move up the value ladder.

Food for Life

Michael Mikulak, Community Food Network Manager Halton Food Council, Leena Sharma Seth, Director, Community Engagement Halton Poverty Roundtable, Colleen Mulholland, President and CEO Burlington Community Foundation, and Brenda Hajdu Executive Director Food for Life.

This city council doesn’t really understand or appreciate the eco-system that gets food into the hands of people who just don’t have enough money to pay for the food they need.

With housing prices rising – rents tend to rise as well – and the scarcity of rental properties owned by landlords that have no qualms about jacking up the rent as much as they can and then making life miserable for any tenant who chooses to fight back.

Getting to that 2026 target is a challenge indeed.

Some of the ground work took place at St. Christopher’s United Church where the group gathered under the auspices of the Halton Poverty Roundtable.

Each participant was given a sheet of paper with a number of questions on it. How would you have answered these questions?

How do you define poverty? How should it be measured? Are there data gaps that need to be addressed to help improve our understanding of poverty in Canada?

What will success look like in a Poverty Reduction Strategy? What target(s) should we pick to measure progress?

Which indicators should we use to track progress towards the target(s)?
On which groups should we focus our efforts?

Which Government of Canada programs and policies do you feel are effective at reducing poverty? Are there programs and policies that can be improved? What else could we do?

Poverty - Leena-Sharma Seth

Leena Sharma Seth, Director of Community Engagement for the Halton Poverty Roundtable

These people were meeting during the week that the provincial government announced that 4,000 people in Ontario would be put on a guaranteed income program for a period of time to see if with an income that they know is going to be there for a period of time – can they rise out of the poverty they have to lie with?

The Gazette wants to follow what Leena Sharma Seth, Director of Community Engagement for the Halton Poverty Round Table does with this group of people.

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2 comments to Is poverty just one of those things that every society has and we just learn to live with? Don’t say that to Leena Sharma Seth.

  • Penny

    I volunteer at the food bank at St. Christopher’s Church. Poverty does exist in Burlington. I see it first hand. This time of the year is a very difficult time. A period between Christmas and the New Year and the growing season in Ontario for fresh fruits and vegetables.

    I think of how with the milk marketing board dairy farmers have to throw away extra milk production if they go over quota and how the food banks could benefit if this could be given to those who need it.

  • steve

    One big reason for poverty is poor choices so many people make in their lives. Young women becoming single mothers and dropping out of the school system. People taking courses in school that are a financial dead end. Some manage to get back to school and take path that actually pays, but many don’t. The trades get a bad rap, when they will provide lifelong decent pay for most who pursue them. Ever met a mechanic/plumber who couldn’t get a job? Not understanding that self-sacrifice and not blowing what money you have on unnecessary things is paramount.

    Save for a house. Don’t borrow money for stupid things. Buying a 6 year old car is better than going deep in dept. Hole off starting a family until you’re in better shape. These bad choices seem to be passed on from generation to generation. This is what they should be teaching in schools. Common sense.