Poverty in Canada majorly occurs in specific populations and it is gender based, with women mostly affected. The prevalence of poverty is high among the Aboriginal peoples and women. In addition, most poor women in Canada are from the most susceptible groups. These groups include the Aboriginal people, individuals from racially-segregated populations and disabled people. The marginalization that these groups of people experience renders them very poor (Townson, 3).
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The Aborigines in particular are generally poor people in the population of Canada. As Noel & Larocque argues, the history of their poverty signifies poor government policies and initiatives, for instance past neglect of provincial governments (4). This paper will critically analyze the reasons for susceptibility of women and Aboriginal people to poverty, the response of government to this issue as well as provide some recommendations for action.
Reasons for poverty vulnerability of women and Aboriginal people in Canada
Women who are singe parents are the most affected in matters of poverty in Canada. These women face challenges of bringing up their children coupled with providing for the family. Studies reveal that these women who are single parents are likely to be five more times poor compared to women who have husbands.
Policy makers usually ignore the problems of these women and deem them as unimportant in nation building. Some studies also indicate that among these women, older women who are single parents, might be 13 times more probably poor compared to seniors living with their husbands (Townson, 2).
The major issue that makes the Aboriginal people more vulnerable to poverty is lack of employment and education. Their employment rate is probably less by ten percent compared to that of non-Aboriginal population. In addition, most of the Aboriginal people do not achieve basic education with approximately 43.7% of them having less than a secondary education (Noel & Larocque, 7).
Problems with employment are also prevalent among women in Canada. Most studies indicate that even though there are always programs for offering employment to women, such women only become the working poor. The major reason for this is that most employed women only work part-time, with full-time jobs reserved for men.
In addition, some women work under contracts rather than permanent employment while others work through a temporary help organization, or working individually. Moreover, even some of the women who work in permanent and full-time jobs receive poor payments, rendering such women poorer (Townson, 6).
Another major issue related to women and employment is job security and pension plans. Even though most employees, both men and women do not have pension plans, the reduced wages that women receive makes it hard for them to save for retirement (Townson, 4).
For the few women who have pension plans, their reduced wages during their working years reflects in the retirement pensions they receive. For instance, when the utmost retirement pension is $908.75 per month, the typical monthly retirement pension offered to women who retired in May 2009 was only $391.29, while that offered to retired men was an average of $564.23 a month (5).
Living and health conditions are other strong factors that render Aboriginal people more susceptible to poverty. For instance, a study conducted in 2005 indicates that 11.4% of Aboriginal people lived in overcrowded houses with poor sanitation compared to 2.9% for the non-Aboriginal people. In addition, the people of Aboriginal origin often have shorter life expectancy compared to the non-Aboriginal people. Moreover, due to living in unhealthy environments, they are more susceptible to chronic diseases (Noel & Larocque, 7).
Actions taken to eradicate poverty and recommendations
Due to public and international pressure, the Canadian government has regularly made steps toward poverty eradication. The major initiative by the government was the Canadian Parliament’s declaration in 1989 to terminate child poverty by the year 2000.
Unfortunately, this was only a recommendation on paper since the deadline they had set passed without any meaningful efforts being made (Bognat, 7). The only positive moves made recently by the government toward poverty eradication are extension of pension coverage for women and limited strategies to lessen child poverty rates through the National Child Tax Benefit (8).
Poverty eradication among the women and Aboriginal people in Canada requires significant policy changes that offer sufficient income security to women and access to public services for the Aboriginal people. The active enforcement and sustainability of such policies necessitate societal and governmental transformation in values to ensure improved sense of responsibility for these marginalized groups (Bognat, 9).
For example, there should be development of policies that address recession for the protection of marginalized and the most susceptible people in the society. This calls for the issue of women equality in political, social and economic spheres as well as protection of marginalized populations for instance the Aboriginal people (Townson, 9).
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The prevalence of poverty among women and the Aboriginal people in Canada is an issue that requires urgent concern. Although political action is necessary, it is evident that it does not entirely solve the problem. This is a clear indication that eradication of poverty among the women and Aboriginal people in Canada does not only require political will and action.
It also requires an extended investment of social, economic and cultural renovation. This implies that for these changes to occur there must be significant transformation of societal values and beliefs toward women and the Aboriginal people.
Bognat, Christopher. “Ending Poverty in Canada: From Political Advocacy to Social Transformation.” Global Issues of Economic Justice 4.2 (2005): 1-16. Web.
Noel, Alain & Larocque, Florence. Aboriginal Peoples and Poverty in Canada: Can Provincial Governments Make a Difference? 2009. Web.
Townson, Monica. Canadian women on their own are poorest of the poor. 2009. Web.