Crime and poverty

Serge Kaptegaine | from CBC (Manitoba Votes 2011)

Reducing crime in our province has been the centre of our 2011 election.

Each political leader has been talking about it and each of them is proposing his solution. Very noble vision, but unfortunately deeper and more global causes of crime in our province are less discussed. I am convinced that it’s important to talk about the cause and maybe from there we can also learn about how to prevent it.

One of the reasons I believe crime continues to be around us is because of poverty, caused by unemployment. It’s sad to say this but unfortunately it has been proven and reported by Radio Canada, the poorest in our country continue to be refugees.

According to Radio Canada, 91 per cent of refugee households in Manitoba lived below the poverty line. We should have the courage of asking ourselves, why is this? And no matter whatever answer we may have, we should have also the courage to recognize that, when a group of people with the same background are going through the same suffering and that suffering is keeping them dependent generation after generation, then there is a problem.

As a former refugee, I have explained through my first submission that there is some misunderstanding between “job given to you, based on demand and job reflective of your skill.”

The impact of deciding work for a certain group of people, not reflective of their skills, does not help them unless we want to keep them dependent. But promoting them through their talents will not only help them regain a sense of self-respect but also provide them economic independence.

My reason for highlighting such an approach regarding refugees’ employment is simple: at a time when Manitoba has a growing population of newcomers, we as a nation simply can’t afford to have at least one in 10 of them out of the workforce due to unemployment or the effects of chronic poverty. This approach tries to assist refugees realize their full potential as contributing members of society. This concept means replacing the welfare approach to helping refugees with one of investing in them and their skills.

One of the best way to see it will be through the eyes of Julia Gillard, the prime minister of Australia who confessed, “community and government programs which focus on investing in human capital ultimately build social capital, because by building on capabilities in communities and disadvantaged groups we are reducing social isolation.” I believe it.

It is up to us now. We all know the old saying ‘give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and he’ll eat forever’. The idea is to assist refugees in employing what they’ve already learned, and thereby enable them to use their skills to create economic opportunity and independence for themselves, for their family, for their community, and so for Manitoba.

It is my hope that this blog will have an impact and together we will be able to see this as one of the solutions regarding employment in our province.

Serge Kaptegaine

Serge Kaptegaine was proud to become a New Canadian in 2010 and wants to know what the province will do for immigrants like himself.


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