How do you know when you are out of poverty?
*Blog by Canada Without Poverty Board President, Harriett McLachlan
That’s an interesting question that’s been turning in my mind lately. I think it’s easier for me to identify when I am living in poverty, the markers are clear and palatable. Not having three meals a day yet feeling so hungry. Living with rats in my home, in the kitchen and children’s beds even. Always scrambling to make ends meet while living with this incessant daily desperation that wears at me like water eroding rock. And especially that feeling of vulnerability even in the face of capability and courage. All these, and more, speak to me of my realities of poverty, 35 desperate years of it.
However, I’ve been feeling good these days. I have the choice of eating three meals a day. I sleep in a bed in an actual bedroom and not on the sofa in the living room. There is a roof over my head and warmth in my home. I have transportation in one form or another where I may get from place to place. There is a buffer of sorts around me that allows for some flexibility when circumstances arise that cost a little more than anticipated. Having paid off student loans and divorce/lawyer fees is a huge relief. For the first time there is a small amount of money in my bank account. So really I don’t feel poor anymore and with all due respect, cannot say that I am poor. These markers indicate that I am out of poverty.
Yet, even though I have a Master’s degree, I have a part-time low-paying job that’s well below the LICO for poverty – I need a telescope to see the poverty line. Currently it is not even close to paying for expenses. Yet, I’m in a two adult home with a total family income that covers costs and as such allows me to search for funding to expand my position at work.
So in all honesty, I am out of poverty. Yet, thin ice comes to mind. So many things could land me back into a poverty reality. The”If” List irritates my mind; If I cannot find funding for my current work or If something happens to my partner and he cannot work. I’m a positive person so I resist this chafing. Like many others, a decent full-time permanent paying employment would secure me unto solid ground, entirely off the ice altogether. This is my hope.
All of CWP’s board members have a lived experience of poverty. If you would like to learn more about our board, please click here.