North Hastings Community Trust (NHCT) has provided emergency financial relief to individuals and families in North Hastings since 2003. In 2015 we began to expand our programming to include community based responses to the impacts of poverty in our community.
We know that there are not enough jobs that pay liveable wages. Most jobs are seasonal,
most pay minimum wage, most do not include benefits. We also know that government social assistance rates (Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Program) are not nearly adequate to meet basic needs. Indeed, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives recently released a report highlighting that the poverty gap has sky rocketed in the last 20 years and that many people on government social assistance are living on incomes 60 % below the poverty line.
Stats on economic realities in the region:
- Average household income is a third lower than the provincial average
- 37% of the population over the age of 15 is not in the labour force
- 38% of children under 6 live in poverty -- 40% higher than the County average (27%)
- 42% of the population is over the age of 55
- Almost half of the population report no education or only a high school diploma
- 40% of the employed population are employed in part-time positions
- Local housing costs represent 30% of household income; local workers spend 22% of their annual income on food and 25% on transportation
With this understanding, NHCT began to expand our vision and work to include community based responses to inadequate resource distribution. While we continue to provide emergency financial relief, we are also working with our community towards more sustainable responses to poverty.
In the fall of 2016 NHCT with friends and supporters, organized community gatherings to deepen our understanding of rural poverty, talk about the impacts of not having enough to live, and learn more about what communities are doing and what more can be done. We worked with the Poverty Round Table of Hastings Prince Edward (http://povertyroundtablehpe.ca) and Put Food in the Budget Campaign (http://www.putfoodinthebudget.ca), and met with over 60 people in Coe Hill, Maynooth and Bancroft.