Poverty is Solvable

“When people come together to solve a problem that is greater than the sum of the individuals experiencing it, it makes that problem solvable.” It’s something I once read about problem solving and I thought it was interesting. That sounds a little confusing though, and all it means is sometimes problems are better solved when more people are working together to solve them.

Let’s talk about the problem of child poverty. Recently, Edmonton Social Planning Council released a report that shows Alberta child poverty statistical comparisons from 1989 to 2012. In 2012, 143,200 children in Alberta lived below the low-income measure (LIM after tax). This represented 16.2 per cent of all children. In 1989, it was 16.4 per cent.  A 0.2 per cent change which is practically no change and there are, in fact, 28,670 more children in poverty in Alberta than in 1989. This data sounds discouraging, doesn’t it?  Remember, these statistics are only some of the information of the report. To get all the information, you can download the Alberta Poverty Report.

If we consider how complex poverty is itself, we might understand it’s not an easy problem to solve.

Family situations, mental health concerns, financial restrictions, cultural difference or language barriers, educational struggles, work experience. All of these, combined or independent of each other, create obstacles for adults to get out of poverty. Unfortunately, if the adults are struggling to get themselves out of poverty, the children are in poverty too. Without finding easier ways out of poverty, the adults and the children continue to struggle in what seems like an endless cycle. It takes time, people, money and many other resources to change this problem.

It’s not up to any one organization to solve poverty. It really take a community of invested people, businesses, governments, schools and agencies all working together to create solutions. In Alberta, we are working together. In particular, thanks to many supporters, United Way of the Alberta Capital Region received donations in excess of $23 million last year to invest in over 100 programs and services to support the community in need.  And we are making an impact. 

Last year, the Empower U Financial Literacy program enriched the lives of more than 200 women (and their children) helping them move themselves and their families out of poverty. As well, Tools for School delivered 10,328 backpacks of school supplies to young learners which assist them in their educational success to break any cycle of poverty they could get stuck in.

Don’t be discouraged by this report.  We are on our way and, in time, we will get there. Poverty is solvable.