The Learning Network’s Dan Nash facilitated a Poverty Simulation at the Vermilion Regional Centre on November 21.
Developed by the United Way, the Poverty Simulation included over 70 participants from Kalyna PCN, the Town of Vermilion, Alberta Health Services, and community agencies.
According to Carol Coleman, participants arranged in family groups and were challenged to visit agency people to deal with their fictitious financial scenarios. Throughout this process, they attempted to make ends meet in a particular time slot.
“It’s all part of a learning experience to identify what is the experience of being low income, and reflect upon how we deliver service,” said Coleman.
In Canada according to http://www.cwp-csp.ca, 1.3 million children live in conditions of poverty; that’s 1 in 5. They state that in Edmonton this statistic rises to 1 in 3 children in single-parent families, and 1 in 2 for Status First Nations children. They identify that nearly two million seniors live beneath the most basic standard of living and that residents in Nunavut spend twice as much on food on average as the rest of the country. They estimate that 4 million people in Canada experience food insecurity.
Canada Without Poverty estimates that 1 in 10 Canadians cannot afford to fill their medical prescriptions, and that food insecure households were 80 per cent more likely to report having diabetes, 60 per cent more likely to report high blood pressure, and 70 per cent more likely to report food allergies.
They state that a McMaster University study found a 21-year difference in life expectancy between the poorest and wealthiest residents of Hamilton, Ontario.
They go on to say that 3 million Canadian households are precariously housed, meaning they live in unaffordable, below standards, and/or overcrowded conditions. In 2016, they estimated that 235,000 people in Canada experienced homelessness, with roughly 35,000 people being homeless on any given night. They state that almost 1 in every 5 households experience serious housing affordability issues (spending over 50 per cent of their low income on rent) which puts them at risk of homelessness.
“The simulation is intended to make you feel the same feelings of people who are in your situation every day for years sometimes. We are trying to reach a level of empathy beyond just having fun,” said Dan Nash, program coordinator for Learning Network Educational Services to the participants.
“This session puts it in perspective; transportation is a concern. Poverty impacts health,” said Mayor Caroline McAuley.
Overall, participants enjoyed the opportunity to challenge their perceptions and change their perspectives on those living in poverty, and how they can address providing services in the future.