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Social Justice for All

By Emmy McKirgan

To examine social justice, we first need to know its meaning. Social justice is the view that everyone deserves equal economic, political and social rights and opportunities. The first step is acknowledging there is a problem. If you agree with this premise you are on the way to eradicating social issues.

Back on November 26, 2007, the General Assembly of the United Nations declared February 20 as the date to commemorate the World Day of Social Justice. There was a need to educate the public on social issues plaguing our modern society, the need remains. The theme for 2021 is, “A Call for Social Justice in the Digital Economy”

We can look at 2021 and see much injustice in our world. It doesn’t take long to find people struggling with social issues such as: living in poverty, lacking opportunities in employment and education, not having enough funds for the necessities of life. It seems the adage: the rich get richer, while the poor get poorer is still true today.

Where are we failing?

For starters, with the problem of poverty. It’s a huge issue! According to Family Service Canada, in 2018, 3.2 million Canadians or 8.7% of the population lived in poverty. Even more disparaging is that 1.7 million Canadians or 4.6% of the total population lived in deep poverty—having disposable income below 75% of Canada’s Official Poverty Line. Read that again, let it sink in.

This statistic is about Canada, not a third-world country. If these were the statistics in 2018, I’m afraid to say, they are much worse in 2021. As the pandemic crisis continues it leaves a trail of ashes, burnt-out dreams, businesses closing and people losing their livelihoods. To make things worse, the pandemic has left an aftermath of people struggling to find mental health resources, as mental health symptoms have skyrocketed.

Why is there such a disparity in the equality of accessing resources?

If you have financial resources at your disposal you can seek the best help possible, regardless of what ails you. It is much easier to access private care and receive the treatments you need. If you aren’t lucky enough to be able to access private care, you will be put on a waiting list for your MRI, surgery, concussion clinic, etc. with waits (even pre COVID) up to a year! If you are in the low-income or poverty bracket you will take whatever help you can get. Often it’s the down and out in our society who need help that can’t access it. How is this fair and equitable? Have you or someone you know had issues accessing care due to finances? Comment below.

What can you do to make a difference?

This article in Harmony Movement explains how you can create change in two distinct ways. For one, you can start with the charity approach. This approach conveys the urgent needs of those in our society and how to quickly help. The influence from the help is immediately visible. The Charity Approach can be seen by providing accommodations, finances, employment, to name a few. This type of approach meets immediate needs but it does not address the issue itself.

The second example is the social change approach. This type of approach tries to make changes that will prevent the issue. For example, steps such as increasing minimum wage, accessible programming to find employment and affordable housing are a few ideas. This approach is a tougher sell, the results aren’t immediate and often the job is formidable. It requires people who are social justice fighters, willing to go the extra mile and those who want to see equality for all.

We have a long way to go to reach social equality! Let’s do our part! Be the change for the betterment of all people. Donate to worthy causes. Stand up for those who can’t fight for themselves! Let your light shine and spread the word: social justice for all!

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