I have been asked in the past, what would do as a councillor for Kings County about childhood poverty. First, our municipal government does not have a direct mandate for childhood poverty. That said however we do have programs that could have positive effects in this area. In that regard, I am pleased to say that in our budget for 2020/21 our Council approved a School Food Program for the County to Contribute $200,000 in the 2020/21 fiscal year and $100,000 thereafter. Importantly also we can use our office of councillor and municipal council corporately to advocate for and influence other governments who do have mandate.
Generally speaking, I believe that childhood poverty must be dealt with from three perspective: 1) In the short term, social safety nets must be in place (and this includes affordable housing) to ensure that no child in our region goes hungry; 2) Kings’ County must ensure that its investments, policies and programs create the conditions to grow our economy and create jobs so that families can feed themselves; and 3) The education system fosters the development and growth of our children to equip them for the workforce and in some instances to break the cycle of poverty.
Obviously, the first and most immediate response must be from a social imperative/social consciences perspective that propels us to ensure that we feed hungry children in our society and I am please that we have sued the School Food Program to make a step in this direction. We must make sure that our social safety structures are sufficient to be aware of where and who the hungry children are and respond to those needs.
The second area is where Kings County Council can play a much larger role for the longer term. Children are hungry because the family does not have the means to feed them. It is imperative going forward that we make Kings County a great place in which to do business through our policy and by-laws, particularly our visionary Municipal Planning Strategy an its attendant bylaws, and through the strategic placement of investments. Towards that end, I am a strong supporter of the Valley Regional Enterprise Network whose mandate is to promote and support the development of business in our region. Families that have jobs and wealth have the means to ensure that there is food on the table for their kids.
While the County does not have much direct effect over the education system and school curriculum in particular, we do collect taxes for the education system and remit these taxes to school boards on an annual basis. Our County needs to find ways to have a more positive relationship with school board and use it‘s position and voice to influence programs.
Obviously, I am open to advice from more knowledgeable people on these matters.