Editorial 

Give us this day our daily bread...

Page 2 of 3

Recently WCSS called a meeting bringing together Whistler Blackcomb, the Whistler Centre for Sustainability, Training Innovations, Mayor Ken Melamed and the Chamber of Commerce to brainstorm on how to deal with demand and supply.

At the root of the issue for the most part is that people do not earn enough to pay for all the necessities of life - though I am sure there are some who need the food bank because they made the wrong choices with their paycheques.

It is difficult to imagine that there might be people living in Whistler who are living in poverty: even the label is troublesome as there are so many definitions globally. After all, "the poverty line" in Whistler is quite different from the poverty line in urban, rural or international settings.

Statistics Canada pointed out earlier this year that Canada has one of the highest proportions of low-paid workers in the industrialized world.

And the number-crunching organization states that B.C. has also had the highest rate of child poverty for seven straight years. The number of children living in poverty is decreasing, but not fast enough to move B.C. from its ranking as the worst in Canada.

That's hard to reconcile with Premier Christy Clark's talk about families first.

There is also an argument to be made that food bank use and poverty are not linked. Statistics Canada tells us that the number of households below the low-income cut-off is falling - to 9.4 per cent in 2008 down from 14.8 per cent in 1993. Yet food bank use across Canada continues to rise.

In March of 2010 food banks were used at a record level - 867,948 people came through their doors. Of those, over 80,000 were first-time users. Since 2000, food bank use has gone up 19 per cent.

But you can't look at the issue of food bank use without considering earnings.

According to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, a living wage for a family of four in Vancouver is $18.83 per hour. In Whistler, according to Dan Wilson, a sustainability planner with the Whistler Centre for Sustainability, a family of four with a nine year old and a 13-year-old needs to earn about $20 per hour.

The issue with the wage level, Wilson went on to point out, is that the wage has to be affordable for the employer as well.

Understanding this may go some way to explaining why the food bank is under siege by users.

Readers also liked…

More by Clare Ogilvie

© 1994-2019 Pique Publishing Inc., Glacier Community Media

- Website powered by Foundation