In his letter of December 29th, Mark Roberts resurrects the myth that people living in poverty could take some of the unfilled jobs in B.C. if they weren’t lured into unemployment by free food, shelter, dental, etc. His comments reveal how ignorant he is of the conditions faced by the poor, the causes of poverty and the state of Canada’s welfare system. I challenge him to spend 30 minutes reviewing the information on www.homelesshub.ca There he might learn, for example, that 30-35% of homeless people have mental illness, that approximately 15% have learning disabilities, and that a majority of homeless youth report being either physically or sexually abused. With no home, limited social supports, and untreated conditions, many of these individuals are unable to work, as much as they might want to. For people on income assistance, it is very difficult to obtain dental care, pay for housing in the Lower Mainland, and buy food, let alone alcohol.
Poverty, the labour market and homelessness are complex issues. It is a disservice to your readers to print letters which provide uninformed and debunked solutions to these issues.