Blogging does not come naturally to me, so it has not been easy to start on this journey.
My thoughts and comments come from the periphery of our urban region. I live and work in Halton, that geography squeezed between Peel and Hamilton. It is an interesting vantage point from which to observe our urban region.
My lens does not allow me to celebrate our region, for its magic does not work for everyone; too many are left outside its opportunities, excluded. Disability, poverty, gender, old age, racism and homophobia interact to create a city region where many live their lives in quiet desperation. I ask why we condemn so many of our neighbours to live in hardship, excluded? I ask what is necessary to make this city region a place where all belong and prosper?
I conclude that the answer lies in our understanding of and respect for human dignity. Strong public services are essential building blocks of human dignity and we must be vigilant in supporting and sustaining these services.
One institution that is failing us is our social assistance system that denies dignity to those we purport to help. In fact, the system is punitive. Not only are people expected to live far below, that is thousands of dollars below, our low income cut off (poverty line) but in the recent provincial budget we eliminated the special diet allowance for those requiring nutritious food due to disease such as diabetes.
To be mean spirited is one thing; to be uninformed and not recognize the cost downloaded to the health care system in future years is ignorant. Whether mean spirited or ignorant, both destroy lives.
There is no short cut if human dignity is to be respected. The greater we allow the gap to grow between the "haves" and the "have nots," the greater the divisions across our city region.
The poor are growing and so are the rich but they live in different neighbourhoods and social worlds. Their lived experiences are totally separate, making it difficult to understanding each other.
I fear these divisions mean that there is little respect and solidarity on which to build a common political, economic, social and cultural agenda for a city region where all belong, where all are respected.
This is my challenge to those who would seek to represent us in the next municipal elections.