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Op-ed: Bad times are coming to rural Nova Scotia

Dealing with higher food prices, fewer jobs, crumbling infrastructure and austerity

by Rural Poverty In Annapolis Valley West

Things don't look good for people on low income struggling to make ends meet in rural Nova Scotia
Things don't look good for people on low income struggling to make ends meet in rural Nova Scotia
This op-ed was originally published in the excellent Rural Poverty in Annapolis Valley West. Check it out!
 
 
"A hungry man is an angry man."
James Howell 1594-1666
 
This weather is making my wood pile take a beating!!  Are you huddled in doors and only going out if it is something you absolutely need?  I know I am!
 
I put the proverb above up as it is an old proverb and a warning; when people are hungry they will resort to drastic measures to feed themselves and their families.  Being hungry makes one angry. And you don't have to be 'food' hungry;  you can be 'heat hungry' and angry at being constantly cold.  You can be 'health hungry' and tired of constantly being in poor health because you don't have any money. Or you can be all of the above.
 
So if you are like me, you have enjoyed the lower price of gasoline.  I can actually go beyond the grocery store and the gas pumps.
 
However, with the price of gas going down, the Canadian dollar is going down as well.  That means that any food that is shipped from the United States is going to cost more in the store.  It will be cheaper to transport it to us but you know that we will never see that savings.
 
Our local grocery stores already make us pay for our food through our noses; the prices we pay in rural Nova Scotia are much higher than they are in urban Nova Scotia.  We also pay for the 'convenience' of having a grocery store in our small towns in the form of higher food prices.
 
Add to this the fact that workers are being laid off in droves out west in Alberta.....and they are coming home.  While we are happy to see our sons and daughters come home, there is going to be some repercussions.
 
Some of the workers will have been smart and saved some money; and some spent every nickle they made on fancy new trucks, 4 wheelers, boats, etc etc.  When they come home, they will have nothing. And all of us will be competing for the very few jobs that are around here.  And this gives the employers the power to lower our wages, fire us unjustly and replace us with someone else who is desperate.
 
The local grocery stores will do better; the local economy will be increased for awhile until they run out of money and have to work at a local job. 
 
If you look at our job banks, the only jobs that seem to be available in rural areas are nursing jobs. Many of our nurses have gone out west because of the low wages here in Nova Scotia and because of Premier McNeil's  attempts to force them all into just a handful of unions.
 
Then, we see that our provincial government is slowly and quietly shutting down rural services such as the Department of Community Services offices.   Poor people and the vulnerable are always the first people to get hit with cutbacks. The Liberals have already started with the poor people here in rural Nova Scotia.  Who and what is next?  Because you know it is coming.
 
Our infrastructure, such as our roads (in addition to our services being closed down), are being permitted to fall apart.  Almost everyone I speak with comments about how much better the roads are maintained in the winter when you cross that invisible Annapolis County line into Kings' County.  I do not blame the workers out plowing the roads; I blame the people in power who decide that we don't need our roads plowed as much or before 9 in the morning in an attempt to save money.  How many people have died on our Hwy 101 in the winter because it was not maintained properly?  How many more are going to die?
 
In the summer our roads get a patch job, if that, in an attempt to keep them up to code.
 
So, with higher food prices, few jobs (and the jobs that are available do not pay a living wage) and more competition for those jobs, with a crumbling infrastructure and services closing in rural places, I do not see a rosy future.  I think bad times are coming; worse than we have seen previously.
 
I will encourage you again - if you can- to start a garden, grow your own food, preserve your own food, get your winter wood early and be frugal with it.   If you cannot grow a garden, buy local food in the autumn when it is cheap and plentiful and then can, freeze, dry and put it aside. Sock away whatever money you can.  Those in power may tell us that "Better times are coming" and "the economy will rebound" but they don't live where we live. 

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Topics: Poverty
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