Poverty is more than a ‘whole bunch of little problems’


Close to 50 individuals gathered Thursday in the YWCA gym for a municipal all-candidates meeting hosted by the Bridges out of Poverty program.
In a campaign dominated by seemingly endless debate over a home for the police service, those enjoying a simple lunch at the Y were seeking any sign of hope from candidates on grass-roots issues like poverty, homelessness and low-paying jobs.
For the most part, they had to chew on simplistic campaign fodder.
In fact, a couple of the candidates put forth an embarrassingly feeble effort as they attempted to answer the question, “How do you address poverty in St. Thomas?”
One individual spent most of his allotted time pushing his over-inflated bio on those in attendance and then dropped this clinker, “poverty is a whole bunch of little problems.”
Nice to know whether you can afford to pay the rent or buy food when there is too much month at the end of the money is one of those “little problems.”

Another candidate floated this piece of bafflegab, “I’m not here to be a politician, but help with the solutions.”
Unfortunately we’re still waiting to get a sense of the nature of his solutions.
Last month, Bridges out of Poverty chairman Ken Brooks was quoted in this corner saying, “One in five children in Elgin and St. Thomas live in poverty.
“That is over 4,100 children. Families in our community are struggling. They are having to make decisions on whether to pay the hydro or to purchase food. Close to 16% of families in St. Thomas and Elgin are living in poverty.”
Those figures are shameful.
Let’s put the collective effort of what will be a radically revamped council to work and wipe those numbers off the slate.

While this is in no way intended to downplay the generous $500,000 donation to St. Thomas Elgin General Hospital by Bob McCaig, we wonder why the same recognition ceremony wasn’t afforded the City of St. Thomas and Elgin County?
After all, city and county ratepayers are committing $7 million to the hospital expansion program.
That’s more than half the required $13 million community contribution.
A sum that was not acknowledged with a multi-media reception in the atrium.
Not even a coffee-and-doughnut photo op.
No way to treat your greatest supporters.

Still with Bob McCaig, it was exactly three years ago he tendered his resignation from the transition committee established at the hospital to deal with the $100 million expansion/refurbishment.
Here is the wording of Bob’s letter of resignation sent to president and CEO Paul Collins, the board of governors and Allan Weatherall from the hospital foundation. It was prompted by the retire/rehire shuffle involving Collins.

re: rehiring of Paul Collins, President and CEO
The news of the recent actions of the Board of Governors of the STEGH in the face of municipal opposition is deeply offensive. The sheer arrogance of entitlement which controls the thinking of the Board of Governors of our hospital boggles the mind.
I have lost confidence in the Board: to me it would not matter if the incumbent President of the Hospital Corporation could walk on water; he should still resign.
Regardless of the reason I refuse to accept the concept of ‘double dipping’ in our society wherever it occurs. It is morally repugnant and I cannot continue to serve on the transition committee.
It is with regret that I hereby tender my resignation.
Bob McCaig

The Chamber of Commerce is hosting a unique meet the candidates event this Tuesday from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at St. Anne’s Centre.
Each participating candidate — mayoral, aldermanic and school trustee — will have a display area where you can visit, pick up campaign material and discuss their platform.
Admission is free and the meet and greet is open to the public.

Ald. Mark CosensFile photo
While we are no longer able to view the video in which Ald. Mark Cosens promises to deliver a new home for the city’s police station, how about an afternoon of sailing aboard the mayoral hopeful’s sailboat.
It’s a 2011 video that shows Cosens and a guest bobbing along in the breeze off Port Stanley.
Cosens has really been pushing alternative forms of transportation and it’s nice to see him practicing what he preaches.
Get your hair tousled and feel the spray at http://bit.ly/1CxPP6l

With the municipal vote on the Monday following, we’ll review what is known as quality voting.
While you get the opportunity to vote for seven aldermanic candidates, if a voter feels they have accomplished that by supporting less than the maximum allowed seven candidates, then they should not feel obligated to cast the remainder of their votes.
It’s a process we first explored in the Times-Journal back in 2003 and it’s promoted by Charles Bens, who has consulted more than 200 public sector organizations in Canada, the U.S., Europe and Latin America.
It’s time for good ideas, not absurd promises . . . next Saturday in this corner.

14 jt 03 clarkejpg
“There has to be rules and regulations around temp. (employment) agencies. They’re taking money from people and, to me, it’s a rip off.”
Aldermanic candidate Gary Clarke livened up an all-candidates meeting Thursday with his call for a close look at how temporary employment agencies operate.

City Scope appears Saturday in the Times-Journal. Questions and comments may be emailed to ian.mccallum@sunmedia.ca.

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