October 17th was the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, and the Central Alberta Poverty Reduction Alliance (CAPRA) was out in the streets of downtown Red Deer to help spread their message.
That message was brought forward through the Dignity For All - Chew on This! campaign, a national event that draws attention to poverty in Canada, and calls for action through a national plan to end poverty.
Outside of The Hub on Ross, CAPRA volunteers were on hand to give out 150 bags with apples, a magnet and a special postcard to passersby.
The apple provided some literal food for thought - donated by Central Alberta Co-Op - while the postcard provides an opportunity for residents across Canada to send their support to the federal government and request a viable solution in ending poverty.
Harrison Blizzard is a CAPRA member and was downtown to help spread the message this week.
"Poverty is an issue that we all face, either directly or someone we may know, or our neighbour," Blizzard said. We talked to one fella here who was a senior, and he talked about his pension and the gap of how much he receives versus the cost of living, and how that affects his lifestyle. We’ve talked to people in our homeless community who are looking for housing and stuff like that. It’s been great to see the variety and the different faces of poverty."
Blizzard added that progress has been made on the federal front, as earlier this year a Poverty Strategy was released by the Federal Government. However, simply putting out a policy isn't what the Dignity for All campaign's goal is - they want action.
"We’ve seen a lot of good change going in the right direction. Earlier this year, a Poverty Strategy was published by Government on actions that should be taken - what we’re asking for is to actually see work on those changes and to put it into their budgets to work on it," Blizzard said.
In May 2 019, CAPRA published Poverty in Red Deer: a needs and opportunities assessment, which provides insight into some of the problems Red Deer and area residents are currently facing that keeps them living in poverty.
Blizzard added that poverty hits in a lot of different ways, and it's important to realize not everyone who is experiencing poverty is homeless or visible in their struggle.
Data gathered by MNP Ltd., published earlier this year, stated that nearly half of Canadians are $200 or less away from insolvency at the end of every month. This is an example of poverty that might not be as visible - living paycheck to paycheck, where one emergency or unexpected bill can put a person over the edge.
Even though Oct. 17th has passed, groups like Dignity for All and CAPRA work hard year-round to bring awareness to the issue of poverty in Canada and are actively looking for ways to support putting an end to it.
On October 24th, CAPRA will be hosting a Financial Empowerment Forum at the Westerner Grounds, sponsored by United Way Central Alberta. The event is free, but registration is required. The event runs from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
For more information on that event, CAPRA and how to get involved locally, head to their website, capovertyreduction.ca.