Along with death and taxes, poverty seems to be something that never goes away. No matter how wealthy a city is, there is always a segment of its population that never seems able to rise above mere subsistence.
You probably see some of those people every day. They are the chronically homeless who die from exposure during our harsh winters.
There is not a lot Edmonton alone can do for these people. Improving their lot in life is often determined by the funding for, and effectiveness of, programs created by governments.
However, along with the visible poor, there are many more individuals in need in this city who can easily escape our notice. These are the people who are referred to as the working poor.
Regardless of what they do and how hard they work, for them, life is a continual battle to deal with having more money than month. These are the poor that Edmonton can do something about.
One of the major costs for all of us is housing. The city does not have the resources to create the kind of infrastructure needed to house everyone who needs help. What it can do is encourage high-density housing so vacancy rates stay in the four per cent range.
That’s the rate that keeps rental cost stable. It can also shepherd its financial resources wisely and well. Doing so would keep tax rates stable so increases are not flowed through to a renter who is already struggling to make ends meet.
Many of the working poor are dependent upon transit. Ensuring that tax revenues are used efficiently would also ensure that those who need a bus to get to work during off-peak hours can do so.
Studies show that the working poor do not always stay that way. If our city makes the services they need its highest priority, we can help them live better lives sooner.