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SOC345H5 Lecture Notes - Working Poor, Food Bank, Neoliberalism

Course Code
Mary Jo Nadeau

of 4
Jan 11th
Mapping Poverty: The Growing Gap and the Economic Apartheid
-people have jobs, but they sleep in cars, why?
othe working poor
-being off from work, being laid off from work, falling behind on rent
-why do people not use shelters?
otoo much noise, can’t sleep – not comfortable
-13,500 people on the waitlist for social housing – the wait is too long
-when people are homeless, there is a sense of resignation – that’s when people start to
give up – don’t know who to trust anymore
-higher rates of poverty with single parent families and immigrants
-the long term impact of being marginalized and being poor – being alone and feelings of
“unworthyness” – form of social exclusion
-diverse – not a typical stereotype of “homelessness”
-people suffering from mental illness and addictions – no help for these people
ostate has cut back on the funding for people with disabilities to be eligible to get
ODSP – people are excluded from the program even though they need it
olink from help from the ODSP and poverty
-labour ready – work that day, get paid that day
Canada’s Growing Gap
1998: Growing Gap Report: inequality between the rich and poor in Canada
2006: Growing Gap, Growing Concerns: Canadian attitudes toward income inequality
2007: Canada’s Rich and Poor: moving in opposite directions
2010: problem of poverty post-recession
Economic Myths
Myth: wealthy nation = economic growth for all
Reality: rich getting richer; poor getting poorer
Gap between rich and poor incomes is growing…
1976: richest 10% of Canadian families earn 31% more income than poorest 10%
2004: richest 10% if Canadian families earn 82% more income than poorest 10%
The Growing Gap … In good economic times, and in bad
-Canada is in top 10 wealthiest nations (#9)
-Surplus in national budget for almost a decade
And yet…
The income gap between the rich and the poor is greater than it was 30 years ago…
-and its widening
-and its becoming entrenched as permanent during good and bad economic times,
since the 1980s
Unequal Distribution of Wealth
The Shrinking Middle-Class (increasing instability)
-increased work, lower overall income
-less savings (from 20% in 1980 to 0% in 2005)
-increased debt (mortgage, education)
The Working Poor (two paycheques away from poverty)
-1.5 million Canadians live as working poor; full-time, multiple jobs
-working poor = 40% of low-income Canadians
-most poor people work full- or part-time
ochanging global structure of the economy – precarious and unstable and low
paying work are increasing globally – linked to neoliberalism
obefore: if you are poor, get a job, but now: if you get a job, you can still be poor
so you are stuck
The Welfare Poor (on the margins; sub-poverty)
-1.7 million Canadians on welfare – half are children
-most vulnerable economic group are single mothers
-Ontario welfare incomes decreased by $6,600 since 1992
oso far below the poverty line that it becomes unliveable
onot being on welfare doesn’t mean you don’t need it – you may not be eligible or
may have been kicked out – stats are fluctuating and going down but that
doesn’t mean things are getting better
omost vulnerable group remains to be single mothers
The Problem of Poverty Post Recession – 3 decades in review
-poverty increased by 26% (peaked in 1983)
owas a recession in early 80s
o1981: first food bank
-recovered by 1989 (to pre-recession rate)
-poverty increased by 67% (peaked in 1997)
-incomplete recovery (2007, poverty increase still remains)
odidn’t go back to the levels of before
-recession ongoing; poverty will increase – 1990s pattern
oagain looks like its not going to recover
obreaks the idea that when the economy gets better, the people start doing well
as well
Shift Patters: Factors
-jobs/labour market (dramatic/protracted unemployment or restructuring downwards)
-social policy (especially income support mechanisms ex. employment insurance, welfare)
orestructured to make it harder for people to access employment insurance
have to have a good paying job for a long period of time
onot only are jobs getting worse, but social policy programs are being cut back
-compound poverty (permanent)
ocompounded effect – as you lose your job, and lose access to social problems,
your health gets worse – makes you even poorer – things just build up and it
becomes very hard to break free of that cycle
othe factors and effects accumulate – even being worn out by living day to day in
poverty conditions
Old Pattern (1940s-80s): gap widens during recession, narrows with economic recovery
-Canada’s welfare state period
-poverty used to recover after the recession recovered
New Pattern (1990s): permanent gap; widens in recession and economic “recovery”
-the new pattern becomes a growing permanent gap
-more pressure on governments to change their policies – liberal push towards
governments – but we’re in a neoliberal period – governments are responsible for
legalizing poverty to begin with
“Feminization of Poverty” – precedes all of this
Women form majority of poor in Canada (1 in 7, 2006)
-single mothers (50%+ live in poverty)
-senior women living alone (40% poverty rate)
-aboriginal women (average annual income $13,000 vs. $18,000 aboriginal men &
$19,000 all women)
-women with disabilities
-women of colour (37% live in poverty); working poor
-immigrant women earn $14,000 less than Canadian-born women at same level of
-high rates of child poverty linked to women’s poverty
Racialization of Poverty – quote from Toronto Star
While the poverty rate among white Canadians has fallen over the last two decades, the number
of racial minorities who live under the poverty line has almost quadrupled”
Canada’s Economic Apartheid
Historical polarization of wealth related to entrenched colonization & racism (present & past),
linked to labour market poverty of racialized peoples (immigrant & Canadian-born)
-racialized families are 2 to 4 times more likely than white families to fall below LICO
-racialized persons make up only 3% of executives
-racialized immigrant most overrepresented in contingent work and low-income job
Canada’s Creeping Apartheid
-the growing racialization of the gap between the rich and the poor
Precarious Work
-also called contingent and non-standard
olower waged forms of non-permanent work arrangements resulting from
employers’ strategies to create a flexible workforce
othe fastest growing type of work in Canada
-contract jobs
-temp agency employment
-sequential short term employment
-multiple job holding
-non permanent part time work
-self employment
“The Global Capitalist Economic Agenda”
An economic model and a political agenda, which prioritizes corporate/private/individual values
over social/public/collective values, and seeks to increase corporate power in an unregulated
global market system:
Main Principles
1. Rule of the market (free trade, low wages)
2. Cuts to social spending
3. Deregulation (reducing government rules)
4. Privatization (sale of state/public-owned goods)
5. Eliminating the concept of “the public good”