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For a country as wealthy as Canada, poverty is utterly unnecessary. In About Canada: Poverty, Jim Silver illustrates that poverty is about more than a shortage of money: it is complex and multifaceted and can profoundly damage the human spirit. At the centre of this analysis are Canada’s neoliberal economic policies, which have created conditions that make a growing number of people vulnerable to low income, vanishing public services and poor physical health. Silver also highlights the ways in which poverty is intimately connected to colonialism and racial and gender discrimination, and finds that the political and economic policies enacted by the Canadian government serve only a powerful minority, while producing a range of negative outcomes for the rest of us, especially the poor. Silver points out that the costs of poverty — relating to health care, crime, education and unemployment — are higher than the costs of solving poverty, and he lays out an achievable strategy for its dramatic reduction in Canada. When poverty is understood as resulting from political choices, its elimination requires putting pressure on governments to ensure that different choices are made.
Jim Silver’s impressive new book tells us about the complexity of why people are poor in Canada, a country so rich in resources. Canadians who are poor face many social challenges such as inadequate housing, poor health, racism, opportunities for employment, and low levels of education. Jim Silver’s conclusion is challenging Canadians to demand our governments “to invest in poverty reduction solutions.”
— Kathy Mallet, long-time community development activist in Winnipeg
“Jim Silver offers a frank and at times troubling picture of deepening poverty and rising inequality in Canada. His significant contribution is to motivate all citizens to demand available solutions to this national tragedy.”
— Paul Moist, National President, Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).
“Comprehensive and often provocative, this book represents a major contribution to our understanding of poverty in Canada. It explains the nature of poverty as variegated and complex, and acknowledges that poverty is gendered and racialized and that it has a spatial dimension.”
— Grace-Edward Galabuzi, Department of Politics and Public Administration, Ryerson University