Wednesday, February 04, 2009

New Brunswick begins community brainstorm meets to reduce poverty

Canada's province of New Brunswick has begin a poverty reduction initiative. The effort begins with a series of brainstorming sessions throughout the province. One of those meetings took place in the town of Dalhouse last night.

It's similar to what happened in the state of Minnesota last year. All of the ideas in the series of meetings will be presented to a commission who will make a report to the government.

From the New Brunswick Tribune, writer Bill Clarke gathered some of the ideas that the public brought to the meeting.

Participants were divided into discussion groups. At the end of the session, each group brought forward their recommendations. One said that there should be programs to ensure that all pregnant women and newborn babies should be guaranteed the necessities of life for life. That group also recommended making access to medical services available everywhere; this might include providing bus transportation, particularly for the elderly; and free education so students wouldn't be burdened with excessive debt.

Another group said that the challenge is creating self-esteem, something they said has to be built. They spoke of the difficulty in reaching those in need and providing adequate education so people are ready for the workplace.

One group called for an increase in the minimum wage and improved social benefits; education for all, and partnerships and exchanges.

One group defined poverty as being unable to participate in the community. Caused in part by the cost of food, fuel and child care. They said that there is too much emphasis on academic education at the expense of training for trades. They also said that the right people aren't always targeted in government programs.

Still another group said that there has to be trust of the system, and that people are losing faith in public consultations. They're burned out by the process and want to start acting now. They spoke about competition between government departments which wastes money and resources. As an example, they cited situations in which people are released from the Restigouche Hospital Centre without support. More support networks are needed, they said.

They called for a contribution of $100,000 from lottery revenue to support social programs.

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