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LETTER: We need policy that addresses poverty

Transformation of Nova Scotia’s social assistance system has been underway for over two years, but people living in poverty and their advocates say to date there has not been significant, meaningful change. A Community Coalition is calling for an immediate increase in benefits and program reform that ensures people are treated with respect and dignity.

Many of the women we work with live in poverty, struggling to support families without adequate income. They must choose between spending money on rent, utilities, heat or food.

In this season, charities are busy, trying to help those living in poverty. But charities will not fix a broken system.

Poverty is maintained by policies that fail to adequately address it. We need a system that meets the human rights and practical needs of those living in poverty. Although government announced this past week they will fund community agencies to address poverty, unless they also put more money directly into the hands of people who need it, they will fail to substantially reduce poverty and the hardship it creates in people's lives.

We support the community agenda for reform, released on Dec. 14, and the need to increase Income Assistance benefits now. We look forward to working in collaboration with policy makers, service providers and those living in poverty to develop a system that is truly transformative.

Georgia Barnwell

Co-ordinator, Women’s Centres Connect

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