Message on poverty needs to be heard, writes Westcott

Bill Westcott
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In the Feb. 11, 2014 print edition of The Compass, columnist Dara Squires presented a serious essay revealing first-hand how government is ignoring basic problems of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who are in financial difficulty through no fault of their own.

letter to editor

If aspiring politicians (most of them wealthy) want to show their spunk, I suggest they take Dara's essay and move it to the top of their agenda. To do otherwise is a dereliction of duty,

To read Dara's column, click here

Dara showed her compassionate side as well. She said life has dealt her a bitter blow and she, like thousands of others like her, have to face daily to the reality of not having enough to live on. This in one of the most successful provinces, which is now extremely wealthy because of oil.

Dara is an intelligent lady and single mother of three who is self-employed. She highlighted the sad state of affairs when a government continues to ignore the basic problems facing single parents and the aged who are suffering economically, emotionally and are in poor health.

Thousands of them are seniors (and their caregivers) and pensioners who just don't have the finances to support body and soul. There's a high concentration of people of our province already on welfare who find their paltry monthly welfare cheque hardly enough to get by on.

Poverty of being poor

Dara Squires' column presented a disturbing look at what she calls the "poverty of being poor." She says it is filled with "societal shame," judgment, levelled criticism and disdain. She calls herself "the working poor."

Equally disturbing, according to the National Association of Federal Retirees, (who presented a report to the provincial minister of finance on Jan. 31) about the plight of our pensioners, seniors on small incomes, those with severe disabilities and those chronically sick being cared for at home or in long-term care homes and institutions and nursing homes around the island and in Labrador. 

35 per cent of us are seniors

The NAFR pleaded with government to look at more funding for these unfortunates amongst us and also suggested "a home care dental service" for our seniors.

Thirty five percent of our population are aged. Sixty-six percent of them are receiving the guaranteed income supplement. If that don't tell the story, then what will?

Dara Squires and the NAFR may be "voices crying in the wilderness." If so, politicians who ignore their pleas should be banished to the political wilderness in the next election — provincially or federally.

Aspiring PC leadership candidates beware. Blind-eyed politicians will face a perilous future for these needy individuals are the people they will eventually have to give account to.

— Bill Westcott is a resident of Clarke's Beach

Organizations: National Association of Federal Retirees

Geographic location: Labrador

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