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Poverty hurts, especially at Christmas

Bill Fox

Bill Fox

By Bill Fox/Columnist

I’m saddened by the fact that in a province so rich in so many ways, we are cancelling a minimum wage increase previously slated to begin this January.

This increase could have helped those living in poverty in Ontario. One of Mother Teresa’s favourite texts is when Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40).

There are so many arguments about why we should all be fighting against poverty. Here are some quotes to think about.

“Extreme poverty anywhere is a threat to human security everywhere.”  – Kofi Annan, Seventh Secretary-General of the United Nations,

“Poverty is the parent of revolution and crime.”  – Aristotle,

“Poverty is the worst form of violence.”  – Mahatma Gandhi,

“An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics.”  – Plutarch, Greek historian,

“Some people think luxury is the opposite of poverty. It is not. It is the opposite of vulgarity.”  – Coco Chanel, French fashion designer,

“To me, a faith in Jesus that is not aligned with the poor…it’s nothing.”  -Bono, singer-songwriter and philanthropist,

“The Bible insists that the best test of a nation’s righteousness is how it treats the poorest and most vulnerable in its midst.”  – Jim Wallis, Christian writer and social activist,

“Americans are blessed with great plenty; we are a generous people and we have a moral obligation to assist those who are suffering from poverty, disease, war and famine.”  – Adam Schiff, U.S. representative,

“Saving our planet, lifting people out of poverty, advancing economic growth…these are one and the same fight.”  – Ban Ki-moon, Eighth Secretary-General of the United Nations,

“Nothing that you have not given away will ever truly be yours.”  – C.S. Lewis, author and Christian apologist,

“When a poor person dies of hunger, it has not happened because God did not take care of him or her. It has happened because neither you nor I wanted to give that person what he or she needed.”  – Mother Teresa,

“There is enough in the world for everyone’s need, but not for everyone’s greed.”  – Frank Buchman, Protestant evangelist,

“The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”  — Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd President of the United States,

“As long as poverty, injustice and gross inequality exist in our world, none of us can truly rest.”  – Nelson Mandela, former President of South Africa,

“If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.”  – John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States,

“It is a common condition of being poor… you are always afraid that the good things in your life are temporary, that someone can take them away (minimum wage increase?), because you have no power beyond your own brute strength to stop them.”  – Rick Bragg, journalist,

“Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life.”  – Nelson Mandela, former President of South Africa,

Ford’s government is cancelling the minimum wage increase and freezing the minimum wage at $14 for nearly three years.

This July, six months after the minimum wage increase, Ontario’s jobless rate dropped to 5.4 per cent, the lowest it has been since the year 2000.

The Chamber of Commerce predicted businesses would take a $23 billion hit from the reforms. The government’s own figures show business profits are up in the first six months of 2018.

These are not the statistics that Ford and Economic Development and Jobs Minister Jim Wilson want to talk about.

Get beyond the ideology, and look at the evidence, and you’ll find no sign that the workplace reforms and minimum wage increase caused widespread job loss or economic damage.

The changes did put more money in workers’ pockets and less in employers’ pockets, and that simple fact raises questions about the real reasons why the Ford government has made this move, and right before Christmas.