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Vote to End Poverty rally wants homelessness in federal election spotlight

A small group held a rally in Whitehorse today, trying to bring poverty to the forefront of this year's federal election campaign.

Rally held in Whitehorse calls politicians to address root causes of poverty

"It's here on almost every street corner and we have been accustomed to avoiding it," says Bonnie Dalziel of poverty in Yukon. (Philippe Morin)

A small group held a rally in Whitehorse on Tuesday to try to bring poverty to the forefront of this year's federal election campaign.

The event was organized by the Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition, which said it's seen an increase in food bank use, shelter use and other markers of poverty. The rally coincided with the kickoff of a national Vote to End Poverty campaign.

Marius Curteanu said he was there to show support for young people in Yukon. 'We all know people who are struggling," he said. (Philippe Morin/CBC)
Marius Curteanu said he'd like to see more discussion in federal politics about the nation's most vulnerable. 

"We all know people who are struggling, lots of single parents. You can see it on a daily basis: homelessness and couch surfers," he said.

"With the economy going into a recession, loss of jobs, the closing of mines...it's pretty hard to make it for lots of young people, older people and seniors. We all know cases and friends who are struggling to make it day to day."

In 2013, the Whitehorse Food Bank provided food for 1,300 people per month while the Salvation Army served 5,000 meals per month

The Yukon Anti-Poverty Coalition said the event was intended to be non-partisan. It was attended by representatives from the NDP, Liberal and Green parties. 

Bonnie Dalziel, who was also at the rally, said candidates should discuss poverty issues more often.

"It's here on almost every street corner and we have been accustomed to avoiding it," Dalziel said.

"Every day I come downtown I realize that people find it somehow unsavoury to acknowledge there's poverty in our midst. It's very evident."

A small group of people attended Tuesday's rally, aiming to draw more election attention to homelessness and vulnerable persons. (Philippe Morin/CBC)

'Attack the root causes' 

People at the rally spoke in favour of housing-first models, greater investment in addictions and mental health services, and a guaranteed minimum income. 

"We don't want to attack the causes," said Dalziel. "It would be so much simpler if we would really, honestly attack the root causes of poverty instead of shunting people aside, or ignoring them." 

David Hedmann said there's not enough being done. 

"[Canada needs] more social and affordable housing, more support from the government for food banks and more services for people that could help them transition out of being homeless to being able to manage their own household," he said. 

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