Saint John leads the nation in several poverty statistics including child poverty but an effort is underway to bring some national attention to the issue.
An E–Petition campaign has been launched with the goal of having the city named Canada’s designated site for poverty reduction by the Saint John Human Development Council and MP Wayne Long.
The Crescent Valley area is one of the city’s low income areas with a high percentage of public housing units.
Juanita Black ofthe Crescent Valley Tenants Association says the issue needs to be brought to the forefront.
“It kind of sucks excuse me to say that,” said Black. “The economy is very soft and we need more working jobs. We just need so much more and I hope this petition is going to solve some of our problems”
Officials say a lot of work is being done in Saint John to improve the poverty situation. Simply put, the needle isn’t moving enough in the right direction though.
“The needle hasn’t moved because we’re looking at income,” said Randy Hatfield of the Human Development Council. “Incomes haven’t increased because we have a low minimum wage, not a great deal of labour force detachment, high unemployment rates, a lot of certain people on social assistance.”
The MP for Saint John has made the poverty file one of his priorities.
“As certainly a political leader, as business leaders and community leaders we need to step up, stand up,own it and come up with solutions to move that needle down,“ said Wayne Long. Long says bringing Federal attention to the city could help do that.
“It will bring federal focus, federal funding and federal programs to Saint John to try to help those in need.”
It’s hoped the online petition will be a step toward attracting more young people to participate.
“It’s one that I hope will certainly engage high school students, university students, community college students and just a younger cohort to say ‘Yes I know there’s a problem in Saint John. I live here, I get that we have a lot of people that are being left behind”, Hatfield said.
People have 120 days to sign the e-petition. It can be found here https://petitions.parl.gc.ca/en/Petition/Details?Petition=e-291
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