Michaels: Every season is for giving, not just Christmas

There's been much ado about Industry Minister James Moore's miserly comments regarding child poverty. But, is it fair?

Sure, the comment, "is it my job to feed my neighbour’s child? I don’t think so,” cast a Dickensian pall on those who hold office in this country, but what is the Harper government  if not a stalwart defender of those who have?

It's no secret to the have-nots—aka Tiny Tims and Bob Cratchets or as we're increasingly known, the 99 per cent—that this isn't the type of government that gets fussed by a paltry matters such as child poverty.

Taking a page from Ebenezer Scrooge's pre-epiphany playbook, they've been busying themselves with these age old questions instead: "Are there no prisons? …union workhouses."

Well, nobody is really on top of the union workhouses these days, but prisons; those are big deal to our elected officials of varying levels.

The province almost brought one to Kelowna.

We were so close to having a place to put all those people who have been struggling to pay their rent, or generally make ends meet.

And those pesky neighbour children of Moore's?

They'd get three square meals, and he'd be off the hook.

Of course, it may be cheaper in the long run to contribute to a fair and equitable society. The kind where the economy functions, but not at the expense of those at the margins.

Because, make no mistake, those margins are widening and only a fool would think they're impervious to the type of downward spiral that could place them there.

If you need evidence, Christmas is the easiest time to get a firsthand story about families who thought things were going along tickety-boo, until hit-after-hit to their bottom line sent them to the foodbank or the Sally Ann for the holidays.

Local news organizations have lined their pages with their stories in an effort to get all  who have a little more to ante up.

But those stories contrasted against Moore's stupid comment —apology disregarded—has made me realize that we all could do better.

It's been 170 years since Dickens penned A Christmas Carol, and we're still struggling with the same disparity between rich and poor.

The 2013 State of the Child Report, organized by Community Action Toward Children's Heath and The report indicated the overall child poverty rate in B.C. is 17.1 per cent; 34.2 per cent of single-parent households have income levels that fall below the Low Income Measure in the Kelowna Metropolitan Area.

The report determined the 2013 Living Wage for the Central Okanagan is $18.01 per hour, to deal with: Average housing costs of $1,264.96 per month, average food costs of $832.82 per month, average child care costs of $1,133.39 per month and average monthly transportation costs of $492.46 for families.

That's far too many people who are dealing with untenable circumstances, and their stories should weigh on us more often than just during the holidays, or when one of the feds open their mouth to spew Scrooge like comments.

Now excuse me, I'm going to check on my neighbours.



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