Not much has changed.
Upstairs in your “house of order” you praise the Tyee Spit upgrades, cruise ship dock, water and sewer to the airport, one new school being built, housing starts and highway uupgrades.
In the basement of that house, there is a terrible mess and the cries for help and justice are not being heard. These come from people who cannot afford to rent a home let alone buy one, disabled people who cannot get the medical transportation they need to take that upgraded highway to the medical care they need. It includes parents and students who had their community schools closed and who have been stuffed into overcrowded leftovers. It includes adults and children who cannot afford to eat nutritious food, who go to school and minimum wage workplaces hungry, tired, and with untreated dental problems. It includes people with renal failure, active liver disease, crippling arthritis, stroke, mental illnesses and head injuries, who cannot qualify for the disability assistance the government brags about. It includes children who live in unsafe housing and who cannot go to proper child care facilities because the people upstairs in your house scrapped their commitment to funding universal daycare.
In the back corner of the basement are twice as many homeless as there were three years ago, 75 per cent of whom are not on welfare because they cannot get it, and they contribute to the 40 percent increase in food bank demand. With their backs against the wall are poor and disabled people who cannot access help for their human rights, their debt issues, their legal problems such as tenancy issues, elder abuse, or accessing a benefit they are entitled to. They cannot find a legal advocate because most of those programs lost their funding along with the 40 percent cut to Legal Aid. Some of the people in the basement are out working, at six dollars an hour, or at part time, temporary, contractual jobs, some to try to save up so they can afford to take a few university classes, and many under adverse conditions , because changes to the Employment Standards Legislation gave some “flexibility” to employers and weakened safeguards to workers. Just like the Residential Tenancy Act changes ghettoized many tenants. It is quite crowded in the basement from those twenty thousand public sector employees who lost their jobs, and the others who received a 15 percent wage reduction. There are special needs students wandering around because they have no one to one support or supervision, and before and after school program cuts have many children alone when they shouldn’t be. Some of the seniors in the basement have been moved out to places south because there are no beds here for them. The thirty percent cut to the Ministry of Children and Families has many frightened and needy children scrambling out of the cracks they have fallen into in the basement of this house.
The economy, Mr. Nash, applies to everyone in your “house” not just those upstairs. The wealth of this community has been out of reach to many, so I suggest you go down to the basement and see for yourself. A start would be to visit your old stomping grounds and ask if those people feel they are better off now than they were four years ago. It is your duty, as the head of our house, to do so.