How A Prairie Town Eliminated Poverty … And The Government Put An End To It

By Mike Archer. An insightful article by Zi-Ann Lum on The Huffington Post reveals the documented benefits of a basic national income; the Conservative government’s decision to shut it down; and, the Harper government’s determined efforts to keep Canada’s poor from climbing out of poverty.

Cover: Dauphin, Manitoba. Photo from

It is well worth reading and reflecting on especially in the context of the systematic discrimination against the poor practiced by the City of Abbotsford and its police forced over the last decade.

The City of Abbotsford and service agancies committed to serving the poor and the destitute have systematically diverted funds away from men and women who suffer from mentall illness, alcohol dependence and drug addiction leaving them to fend for themselves on the streets where the Abbotsford Police Department (APD) harrassed and abused them.

Whatever excuses, explanations, justifications or variations on the story different organizations and individuals can come up with … the end results speaks for itself in both the worldwide reputation Abbotsford has earned for its mistreatment of the homeless and the plethora of history-making court cases and human rights complaints in which the City and its police are involved.

A belief in and a committment to the basic value of a human being, regardless of financial status, medical condition, or substance use/abuse might have led to a completely different result. A willingness to spend the hundreds of thousands of dollars the City and the APD continue to spend on fighting the homeless in court and on the streets could have been spent helping people.

Imagine what could have been done in our city were our leaders at the time not blinded by ideology and belief …

Roy Roberts during the Gladys evacuation July 31. Bas Stevens photo

Roy Roberts during the Gladys evacuation July 31. Bas Stevens photo

A Canadian City Once Elimated Poverty And Nearly Everyone Forgot About It

[excerpt] Between 1974 and 1979, residents of a small Manitoba city were selected to be subjects in a project that ensured basic annual incomes for everyone. For five years, monthly cheques were delivered to the poorest residents of Dauphin, Man. – no strings attached.

And for five years, poverty was completely eliminated.

But the Conservative government that took power provincially in 1977 – and federally in 1979 – had no interest in implementing the project more widely. Researchers were told to pack up the project’s records into 1,800 boxes and place them in storage.

A final report was never released.

[excerpt] “Canada’s welfare system is a box with a tight lid. Those in need must essentially first become destitute before they qualify for temporary assistance,” said TD Bank’s former chief economist Don Drummond after the social agency’s report was released in 2010.

“But the record shows once you become destitute you tend to stay in that state. You have no means to absorb setbacks in income or unexpected costs. You can’t afford to move to where jobs might be or upgrade your skills.”

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