Changing minds about poverty


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As Chatham-Kent marks Poverty Awareness Day next week, one local expert in the field says a fundamental shift in society’s attitude is the only way to make major inroads on the issue.

Prosperity Round Table co-ordinator Kate do Forno said the realization that poverty affects everyone might be the catalyst needed to bring about changes.

“Even if you aren’t having financial stresses yourself, just about everyone in our community knows someone who is,” she said. Do Forno said there are a lot of people “doing wonderful work” to help those less fortunate but they are unable to get ahead of the curve.

“It gets down to people having secure, full time jobs with a wage that will allow them to support their families,” she said. “We can help those who have fallen through the very wide cracks in the system but much of what is done is by nature temporary. Unfortunately, poverty is not a temporary problem.”

The prosperity roundtable consists of 59 local organizations that have joined forces to better use resources and provide aid to the estimated 17 per cent Chatham-Kent residents who are live below the poverty line.

A roundtable committee will be revealing what it believes should be a “living wage” in Chatham-Kent and presenting a number of employees who have committed to paying employees that amount.

“We’re very sensitive to the needs of small businesses that may be hard pressed to make ends meet now,” she said. “We are certainly not targeting or blaming them, but instead encouraging a wider look at the problem so perhaps senior governments can provide assistance of some form.”

Do Forno said with usage at local food banks increasing; she believes the problem is growing.

“There are people who are holding minimum wage jobs who still have to use food banks,” she said. “Operators are seeing people they’ve never seen before.”

Monday, Oct. 17 will see a flag-raising at the Civic Centre and a presentation before Chatham-Kent Council that night.

The living wage discussion will take place Tuesday, a Diverse City Party will be held at the Kent 1874 Saturday and social activist Dierdre Pike will speak on poverty reduction as a social justice imperative Monday, October 24.

For more information on times and dates, visit


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