Darlene Watters and Rick Lazaroff, the owners/operators of Wasaga.com would like to wish all of our clients, friends, family and visitors a wonderful holiday season. May 2012 be happy, healthy and prosperous for all.
A big part of the Christmas tradition for many people is to get together with friends, family and neighbours to share the bounty of the year - not just with people we know, but those who may be less fortunate. That is the part of the tradition I admire most. This can be expressed by inviting those closest to you over for a decadent meal, and an exchange of gifts. Many people go a little overboard here and some complain that Christmas has become too commercial but the basic message is still the same. Once a year we try to show others that we appreciate what we have and share a little with those who have not.
It has been a particularly difficult year for many people and we are always mindful of those folks at this time of year. There are always toy drives, pleas from the food bank, charities, etc., but for those lucky people who have never felt the sting of poverty, and who may empathize but not really understand poverty from a first hand point of view, I hope you will indulge me as I have been there myself - not just as a child, but later on as a young adult.
Children who are old enough to understand poverty could care less if they see a toy under the tree at Christmas, despite the fact that the media and corporations seem to focus their efforts on toy drives each year. Toys are nice but they provide only momentary fun. A toy once each year doesn't change a thing for these families. They need more help. If each one of us would stand united to raise our voices, we could provide that help.
The problem is that child we tried to help at Christmas time with the gift of a toy still returns to school with inadequate winter clothing. Some skip meals, while others suffer through cold conditions when there is no money to pay the gas bill. They still cannot participate in after school activities or school trips. Wouldn't it be nice if our concern for impoverished children would extend to the other 364 days of the year?
What is really needed to help those in need is the hope of a better future. Better paying jobs with benefits and stability, more affordable food, utilities. Many people right here in Wasaga Beach are forced to juggle 2 or more low paying jobs just to live at a subsistence level. As a community we need to do more to help.
Every year I implore our readers to write their politicians. A rich country like Canada should not tolerate jobs that pay less than minimum wage. Many companies have been avoiding paying minimum wage by hiring under the table employees, or calling a previously full-time job "contract work" so that minimum wage laws don't apply. That taxi driver who takes your mother to the grocery store often works, or rather waits on call all day to make less than $20. The school bus driver works on a per-run basis rather than hourly wage which brings his/her daily pay to well under minimum.
Companies which once paid reasonable wages are earning their profits by cutting the wages of their lowest earners and finding loopholes in employment laws to avoid hiring full-time, permanent employees. It is not a right or left political issue because both governing parties have created legislation over the last 30 years which has led to driving jobs overseas, or causing the disappearance of decent paying, stable jobs. We need those jobs back. And if helping the poor isn't a good enough reason, consider that your taxes are higher because many people who were once among the ranks of the working class, now find themselves the new working poor.
This Christmas and New Year, resolve to help your community so that next year toy drives and food drives are less important. Call your Provincial M.P.P. (Jim Wilson), your Federal M.P. Kellie Leitch, or contact your local council members here in Wasaga Beach.
And a hearty thank you to all of the wonderful volunteers here in Wasaga Beach who do good work with churches, food banks, clothing drives and more. We do have a lot of people in this community who recognize the problem and who care very deeply.
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