Whitehorse rally aims to make poverty a campaign issue

A campaign to raise awareness about poverty was launched across the country this week, including at a rally in downtown Whitehorse on Tuesday.

A campaign to raise awareness about poverty was launched across the country this week, including at a rally in downtown Whitehorse on Tuesday.

The Whitehorse Vote to End Poverty event was hosted by the Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition, in an effort to educate voters about the effects of poverty before the municipal and federal elections on Oct. 15 and 19.

“We want to make poverty an issue for all the candidates both federally and municipally here in the Yukon,” Charlotte Hrenchuk, co-chair of the coalition, told a crowd of about 20 people. “And we want to increase voter turnout, to encourage low-income Yukoners to cast their ballots.”

Hrenchuk said the Whitehorse food bank served about 1,250 people per month this summer, a third of whom were children. She also pointed to high rents and long wait lists for social housing as some of the major issues facing low-income Yukoners.

She cited research from 2008 estimating that poverty adds $7.6 billion per year to health-care budgets across the country, because people living in poverty are more vulnerable to health problems.

“If some of that money were shifted towards the symptoms and prevention (of poverty), our health-care costs would go down,” Hrenchuk said.

Maura Sullivan, a Whitehorse resident who attended the event, said she doesn’t feel poverty has been adequately addressed so far in the federal election campaign.

“All you hear about is numbers and the economic downturn,” she said. “I’d like to hear more about what they’re going to do about affordable housing, especially in cold places where we live.”

She also worries that people without fixed addresses will have difficulty voting this year, thanks to changes to voter requirements under the Fair Elections Act.

Despite the Vote to End Poverty campaign’s status as a non-partisan initiative, Tuesday’s event was more heavily attended by politicians than anyone else.

All city councillors were present, including Dave Stockdale and Betty Irwin, who are both seeking re-election.

Liberal candidate Larry Bagnell and NDP candidate Melissa Atkinson also both attended, and were quick to point to their respective parties’ plans for addressing poverty.

Bagnell touted the Liberal Party’s Canada Child Benefit, worth up to $533 a month per child. He also mentioned the party’s pledge to spend $60 billion on infrastructure.

“That’ll put a lot of people back to work, so they can feed their families and pay their mortgages,” he said.

Atkinson referred to the NDP’s plan for $15-a-day child care and a $15 minimum wage for workers in federally regulated sectors.

Conservative MP Ryan Leef did not attend the event.

The Anti-Poverty Coalition is encouraging Yukoners to ask candidates how they would fight poverty, and to participate in a national conversation using the hashtag #VoteToEndPoverty.

In 2012, the United Nations issued a scathing report criticizing Canada’s approach to dealing with inequality and poverty. It called for the creation of a national anti-poverty strategy – something that still doesn’t exist. Instead, provinces and territories have developed their own plans – currently, British Columbia is the only Canadian jurisdiction without a plan in development.

The Yukon released a report on poverty in the territory in 2013, which estimated that 16.8 per cent of residents experienced food insecurity, and that over 30 per cent of single-parent families earned less than $30,000 per year. It also pegged the unemployment rate for First Nations people in the Yukon at nearly 22 per cent.

Contact Maura Forrest at

maura.forrest@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

d
Wyatt’s World

Wyatt’s World for March 5, 2021.

City councillor Samson Hartland in Whitehorse on Dec. 3, 2018. Hartland has announced his plans to run for mayor in the Oct. 21 municipal election. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Councillor sets sights on mayor’s chair

Hartland declares election plans

Premier Sandy Silver speaks to media after delivering the budget in the legislature in Whitehorse on March 4. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Territorial budget predicts deficit of $12.7 million, reduced pandemic spending in 2021-2022

If recovery goes well, the territory could end up with a very small surplus.

Dawson City RCMP are reporting a break and enter on Feb. 25 after two masked men entered a residence, assaulted a man inside with a weapon and departed. (Black Press file)
Two men arrested after Dawson City home invasion

Dawson City RCMP are reporting a break and enter on Feb. 25.… Continue reading

Highways and Public Works Minister Richard Mostyn speaks to reporters at a news conference in Whitehorse on Dec. 21, 2017. New ATIPP laws are coming into effect April 1. (Chris Windeyer/Yukon News file)
New access to information laws will take effect April 1

“Our government remains committed to government openness and accountability.”

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley receives his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine from Public Health Nurse Angie Bartelen at the Yukon Convention Centre Clinic in Whitehorse on March 3. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
State of emergency extended for another 90 days

“Now we’re in a situation where we see the finish line.”

Team Yukon athletes wave flags at the 2012 Arctic Winter Games opening ceremony in Whitehorse. The 2022 event in Wood Buffalo, Alta., has been postponed indefinitely. (Justin Kennedy/Yukon News file)
2022 Arctic Winter Games postponed indefinitely

Wood Buffalo, Alta., Host Society committed to rescheduling at a later date

Crews work to clear the South Klondike Highway after an avalanche earlier this week. (Submitted)
South Klondike Highway remains closed due to avalanches

Yukon Avalanche Association recommending backcountry recreators remain vigilant

RCMP Online Crime Reporting website in Whitehorse on March 5. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Whitehorse RCMP launch online crime reporting

Both a website and Whitehorse RCMP app are now available

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is preparing for a pandemic-era election this October with a number of measures proposed to address COVID-19 restrictions. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City gets set for Oct. 21 municipal election

Elections procedures bylaw comes forward

A rendering of the Normandy Manor seniors housing facility. (Photo courtesy KBC Developments)
Work on seniors housing project moves forward

Funding announced for Normandy Manor

Tom Ullyett, pictured, is the first Yukoner to receive the Louis St-Laurent Award of Excellence from the Canadian Bar Association for his work as a community builder and mentor in the territory. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Tom Ullyett wins lifetime achievement award from the Canadian Bar Association

Ullyett has worked in the Yukon’s justice ecosystem for 36 years as a public sector lawyer and mentor

The Blood Ties outreach van will now run seven nights a week, thanks to a boost in government funding. Logan Godin, coordinator, and Jesse Whelen, harm reduction counsellor, are seen here on May 12, 2020. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Blood Ties outreach van running seven nights a week with funding boost

The Yukon government is ramping up overdose response, considering safe supply plan

Most Read