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Taking care of each other: Collective wealth into well-being

in Health/Poverty Reduction by
Taking care of each other: Collective wealth into well-being

I always feel a little anxious sitting in the dentist chair, but fortunately I usually only need a cleaning. One thing I never worried about was paying for our family’s dental visits. Prescription drug coverage, dental care and other health care options were part of a benefits package my family received through my spouse’s unionized workplace. Why would I not wish that peace of mind for everyone?

Taking care of our bodies is a human need, but we have yet to make a commitment to a comprehensive health care system for everyone regardless of work status or income. Dental care and prescription drug coverage is both essential and expensive. Many people however, do not receive benefits through their workplace and cannot afford private insurance. Others remain on social assistance rather than take a low wage job without benefits.

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‘Who Cooked Adam Smith’s Dinner?’ a provocative look at ‘economic man’

in Opinion by
Bay Street in Toronto. Is everything subservient to the market?

Katrine Marçal blows the whistle on the founding father of our economic system, Adam Smith, in Who Cooked Adam Smith’s Dinner?

When Adam Smith proclaimed that all our actions were motivated by self-interest, he used the example of the baker and the butcher as he laid the foundations for his ‘economic man’ theory. Smith reasoned the baker and butcher didn’t give bread and meat out of kindness, which was certainly an interesting viewpoint coming from a bachelor who lived with his mother for most of his life — the same woman who cooked his dinner each night and certainly not out of self-interest.

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Transportation and child care: Key barriers to work in Kawartha Lakes

in Municipal/Poverty Reduction by
Transportation and child care: Key barriers to work in Kawartha Lakes
A lack of affordable or flexible childcare is another employment barrier here.

Until his work accident, ‘Tom’ had always had regular employment. Deemed medically unfit to work by a team of doctors, and denied WSIB benefits, Tom had to sell his possessions and eventually the family vehicle to feed his family.

He had to move from Lindsay to a rural part of the city in search of less expensive rent. Finally cleared to return to work, Tom faced what employment professionals call a ‘barrier’ to work.

“The (time off from the) accident had used up every available dollar I could borrow from friends and family. I had already sold anything of value. I needed a car to get a job. And I needed a job to get a car. I was in this feedback loop of failure,” he says.

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Benns’ Belief: The absurdity of equating jobs with work

in Opinion by

Twelve issues ago Joli and I launched The Lindsay Advocate as a monthly magazine (and online publication) that would focus on the social and economic wellness of Kawartha Lakes. (It’s actually been a year and a half for our news site).

Wellness, to us, starts with big picture policy. It means we advocate for progressive social policies that will improve Canadian society. It also means we advocate for our small businesses as the engine of our local economy; the best form of capitalism is local and community-based, not corporate and faceless.

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What the Nordic countries can teach us

in Opinion/Poverty Reduction by
Reykjavik, Iceland. Nordic nations boast a high quality of life. Photo: Roderick Benns.

Walking the ancient Camino de Santiago, a large network of ancient pilgrim routes stretching across Europe, I met a fellow pilgrim named Uho, a Finnish man. It was late afternoon in the sunny courtyard of our hostel and I watched Uho plunge his feet into a bucket of cold water to revive his tired muscles.

Wanting to strike up a conversation, and having read about the high level of equality in Finland, I asked Uho if life was good there. He replied that it was, but many Finns only appreciated their situation only when they returned home after travelling outside of Finland.

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Fighting inequality makes all of society stronger

in Community/Opinion/Poverty Reduction by
Fighting inequality makes all of society stronger
The Nordic countries (like Norway, above) are among the most equal societies.

Like many people concerned about social justice, I read books and online resources about eliminating poverty and inequality.  About five or six years ago I read The Spirit Level: Why Equality is Better for Everyone and I began thinking differently about how we might address poverty.

What was so compelling about the ideas presented in The Spirit Level was that there were countries in which social and health outcomes were positive and these countries happened to be highly equal (as measured by the Gini coefficient). The authors, both epidemiologists, studied a number of health and social outcomes affected by social status. Income, education, or profession defines social status.

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The beer can family and the faces of poverty

in Opinion/Poverty Reduction by

From my kitchen window I could see the two girls were about four and six years old.

They had just hopped out of a rusting, black Suzuki Esteem, circa 2001 maybe, making a beeline for our large recycling bin.

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