Three hundred and eighteen

I’m going to look at other ways people measure poverty, in both wealthy and poor communities around the world.  I will start with my own province and a newly-developed measurement of child poverty in Ontario:

A different way of looking at poverty – the Ontario Deprivation Index

The Low-Income Cut Off that I am using as my poverty line is based solely on income made during a year.  But there are other factors that are important when measuring poverty, such as standard of living.  The Ontario Deprivation Index is “a list of items or activities considered necessary to have an adequate standard of living, but those who are poor are unlikely to be able to afford.”  This is not a list of basic needs, because in wealthy societies most households are likely to have basic necessities such as clean water, healthcare, and some food.  This is a list to distinguish the poor from the non-poor – what Ontarians believe are necessary to have a standard of living above the poverty level.

The list:

  • Do you eat fresh fruit and vegetables every day?
  • Are you able to get dental care if needed?
  • Do you eat meat, fish or a vegetarian equivalent at least every other day?
  • Are you able to replace or repair broken or damaged appliances such as a vacuum or a toaster?
  • Do you have appropriate clothes for job interviews?
  • Are you able to get around your community, either by having a car or by taking the bus or an equivalent mode of transportation?
  • Are you able to have friends or family over for a meal at least once a month?
  • Is your house or apartment free of pests, such as cockroaches?
  • Are you able to buy some small gifts for family or friends at least once a year?
  • Do you have a hobby or leisure activity?

The Index was developped in partnership with the Daily Bread Food Bank,  the Caledon Institute of Social Policy and Statistics Canada.  The Daily Bread Food Bank started by testing 29 items with people accessing food banks.  Through surveys, focus groups, and employing people living in poverty as researchers, the list was narrowed down to the 10 items listed above.

Statistics Canada took this list and surveyed 10,000 households in Ontario.  The results determined how many children are being raised in poverty.  A child has poverty-level standards if at least two out of the 10 items in the Index are missing in the child’s household because the family cannot afford them.  The 2009 results found 12.5% of Ontario children were lacking two or more of the items.

The good thing about this measure, as opposed to the income measure, is it reflects living conditions, real-life experiences, and social isolation experienced because of poverty.  Although it is definitely a measurement for a wealthy society.  For the purpose of my experiment, this is not concrete enough to use as my poverty line, but complements the income measure to create a broader picture of living at the poverty line in Canada.

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3 thoughts on “Three hundred and eighteen

  1. This is impressive, Lindsay, and maybe even more so for your ability to accurately read into and react to what some “moderately offended” people might have made comments on. I have some perspective from both sides of the coin, growing up moderately affluent in my formative years, then watching that disintegrate when my parents went through a long and painful divorce, then it got even worse for me as I was attending university when upon finishing (and by finishing I mean, dropping out to find a job to help with bills at home…which didn’t happen easily in the early 90’s recession). I know I have heard it said that even a homeless person on the streets in Canada has it better in many ways than hundreds of millions of people elsewhere — but that doesn’t really bring solace to my mind. It only further indicates the state of things on earth right now are so askew that we can even make such a true observation, an observation that really should be an analogy but is unfortunately factual. In my later years now, I would classify myself as one of those middle-class working poor — I have “things”, mostly to help keep myself sane, clean, or unconscious! — but I also don’t make enough money to save enough money fast enough, without sitting down and depriving myself of certain creature comforts. I work as hard as the next person, but mistakes and accidents earlier in life are still being paid for now, literally. The one hope that I have over someone else who is NOT employed or properly educated is that there is light ahead for me. I can work it out over time, and have been. But poverty is a soul-sucking, awful thing, that quickly fills you with regret and hopelessness, even here in a country with all the resources supposedly available to help you escape from it… Like most everything, that is simply easier said than done.

    All the same, I have thoroughly enjoyed your blog, and I hope that you continue to keep me entertained even on day 367!

    • Thank you for sharing your story. It must have been hard going through what you did. It sounds like you’re headed in the direction you want to be now, though. I’m finding out more and more how circumstances in our lives that we can’t change, don’t see coming, and/or decisions we make in the past, can quickly affect our financial situation, which can then cause that downward spiral of depression and soul-sucking of poverty that is hard to get out of. It could happen to any of us. I hope the more we all talk about it, the more those who have money (or even just time to listen and support) will want to help out those that don’t. Maybe this is a naive thought…

      Thanks for reading the blog and the support.

  2. Pingback: Three hundred and thirty-seven | threehundredsixtysixdays

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