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Face it folks, poverty lives here

The Editor, Re: "Offshore dollars pose possible cause to poverty rates," Letters, Nov. 30. I read with amazement the Nov.

The Editor,

Re: "Offshore dollars pose possible cause to poverty rates," Letters, Nov. 30.

I read with amazement the Nov. 30 letter that raises yet again the persistent notion that offshore dollars skew the Richmond poverty statistics under Statistics Canada because they are not reported to the Canada Revenue Agency.

Since this allegation arises as often as the snow geese come to town, the Richmond Poverty Response Committee in 2009 asked Stats Canada for their view on the reporting of offshore income.

Their response was "the Canada Revenue Agency is quite clear in their documents that worldwide income is to be included when filing."

They go on to quote the income tax guide in three separate places and state that reportable income includes offshore income, investment income from abroad and alimony, child support and any periodic support from persons not in the household.

If what the letter writer says is true and the poverty statistics are too high, then thousands of households in Richmond must be under-reporting their income.

It is for this reason that I eagerly await the Richmond Family Place and Children First report on child poverty. I am also hopeful that the 2011 Census results will show us a better picture of Richmond's poverty level than the last census.

It would be a relief to know Richmond does not really have the second highest level of child poverty in B.C. We look forward to the time when Richmond teachers no longer need to keep drawers of food for their hungry students.

We look forward to the time when the Food Bank is not serving over 500 families a week and when there will be no need for five weekly community meals and second sittings as is currently the case.

The foregoing food security statistics are real, in contrast to the letter writer's anecdotal stories about a student friend and some neighbours. And if she believes Stats Canada statistics are incorrect then it follows that her contacts are not reporting income that by Canadian law, they must report.

Sadly, I believe the poverty statistics are correct. This is a case of people in Richmond continuing to deny that a substantial number of our families live in poverty.

The "offshore income" excuse has seen enough airtime. Let's work together to make Richmond a better place for all of us. Skeptics, please ask volunteers at the food bank and community meals about what they see.

Volunteers may not be able to cite statistics, but they can tell you who they serve and why. During this season, consider a donation to the food bank or to any of the places of worship that provide community meals.

De Whalen Chair, Richmond Poverty Response Committee