Moving From Charity to Investment: Reducing the Cost of Poverty in Medicine Hat
As of 2010, 7,360 people in the greater Medicine Hat area were living in poverty, 2,590 of whom were children – representing a 10% poverty rate, and a 16% child poverty rate. This report was commissioned by the Medicine Hat Poverty Roundtable as part of a community-based effort to reduce poverty in Medicine Hat. Fundamental to the Roundtable’s objective is the need to develop a different approach to addressing poverty. The aim is to move from a charity-based approach to an investment approach: from alleviating poverty to preventing and ultimately reducing poverty by addressing it at its roots. For the Roundtable, this means moving beyond addressing crises to preventing crises in the first place. It means ensuring that its citizens can access help before being destitute. And it means thinking about how moderate investments made now can lead to significant and long-term social benefit, financial savings, and economic growth down the road. The Roundtable chose six priority areas on which to focus. They include: Living Wages, Affordable Housing, Recreation, Education, Transportation and Food Security. This report provides information on poverty and social indicators in Medicine Hat; on the definition, causes, effects and inidicators of poverty; and on the current state of the six priority areas. It is a starting point from which to develop a common understanding of poverty in the community, and from which to track progress in the future. This report accesses statistical data, current research, and qualitative data from key interviews with Medicine Hat residents to develop as representative a picture as possible. Gender, work opportunities, wages, mental illness, addiction, disability, income support policies, bureaucracy, access to education, parenting, and immigration were factors found to be closely related to poverty in Medicine Hat. We also heard from residents that misconceptions exist about why people live in poverty. A common view is that poverty is related to individual choices. While individual choices have consequences in everyone’s lives – rich, poor, and middle-income – typically these alone do not lead to poverty. Poverty derives from a mixture of complex and compounding factors, including:
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Medicine Hat, Alberta T1A 2S8
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