COLUMNS: Why the worker shortage?

Child poverty in Williams Lake should be a major concern, but it doesn’t seem to be high on our agenda.

Child poverty in Williams Lake should be a major concern, but it doesn’t seem to be high on our agenda.

According to a recent report in the Tribune, our numbers are down from previous years, but we’re still above both provincial and federal averages, with 840 city children living in poverty.

Within Cariboo-Chilcotin, 23.7 per cent of children are living in poverty, again down from last year, but the provincial average is 19.8 per cent. Indigenous children, new immigrants, children with disabilities and from one parent families are the poorest. The low minimum wage is considered a contributing factor.

Our federal government passed a resolution on 1989 to eliminate child poverty by 2000. What happened? That’s six Prime Ministers ago (three Liberal, three Conservatives); eight B.C. Premiers ago (four NDP, four not). Can’t blame local governments for this one. Then, of course, there is the question of how the 15 years of under-funding B.C.’s school system affected poor kids.

At the other end of the age spectrum is the serious under-staffing in B.C.’s nursing homes due to the critical shortage of trained workers. I would suggest there is a critical need for more nursing homes if the Williams Lake area is any example. Question: why the worker shortage? Poor pay? Poor benefits? Poor working conditions? Too few training opportunities​ ?

***

Prime Minister Trudeau has been criticized for his favourable comments on Fidel Castro who died last week. After leading a rebel army to a surprising victory in Cuba, Castro established a Soviet-style communist government that lasted almost 50 years, undeterred by hostility from 10 powerful U.S. presidents.

Conservative MPs (and the media) who are yapping at Mr. T are being a tad hypocritical. Nobody squawked last year when former PM Stephen Harper gave a similar warm send-off to Saudi Arabia’s corrupt King Abdullah.

You don’t have to be a Castro fan to respect Cuba’s social record. Cubans may be poor but they all, kids included, get fed, health care and an education. Because its infant death rate is the lowest in the Americas, Cuba was declared an “international paradise” for infants by the UNICEF.

Diana French is a freelance columnist, former Tribune editor, retired teacher, historian, and book author.

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