Alec Startford: “The recent changes to the Income Assistance Program are embedded in a traditional worldview that poverty is largely the result of an individual deficit, that people need to work harder to join the workforce, and for those who can’t work, we feel sympathy for their suffering and we want to relieve the pain. The grounding principle in this worldview is that the free market is the best and most efficient way to alleviate poverty. Where it can’t the social welfare system will provide remedial services to relieve suffering.”

Recent changes to the Child and Family Service Act have made the fight against child poverty even more difficult, writes Alec Stratford, executive director of the NS College of Social Workers. Shortened judicial timelines, the expansion of the definition of neglect and the overall lack of resources have amounted to greater penalization of families struggling to afford the cost of housing, food, childcare, clothing and transportation.