At least one voice within city hall is frustrated with an advertising campaign aimed at drawing awareness to the issue of poverty in London, saying the money could be better spent elsewhere.
The “Poverty Over London” campaign cost taxpayers $41,000 for billboards, a website, videos telling stories of Londoners dealing with poverty, and a social media campaign.
Councillor Phil Squire spoke on The Craig Needles Show on Friday, calling the campaign a waste.
“Let’s stop spending money on this, and let’s start actually spending money on the ground, doing the programs, helping the people who are already working on solving poverty because I think their reaction would be, ‘Man, we could have done a lot with that money. We could have done a lot of good work in the community.'”
Squire noted in a Facebook post that the money was approved by the previous council and was not connected to the Mayor’s Advisory Panel on Poverty.
However, it was highlighted in the panel’s update on Thursday evening as a success of the campaign.
The campaign was launched in May through the London Poverty Research Centre at King’s University College.
Since the poverty panel only made recommendations, an implementation body is expected to be formed to move those ideas forward.
Squire says there’s no vision in that.
“When I see that we’re going to do an implementation panel and working — I don’t see a way for these ideas to find their way into that, and that’s what bothers me,” he said. “I don’t see the room for these new ideas that can work.”
However, co-chair of the panel Dr. Chris Mackie defended the campaign, calling it visionary, and that thinking the money could end poverty is short-sighted.
“I love it when people talk about $41,000 like it’s an amount that can solve poverty. That’s really, kind of, missing the boat. The issues of poverty are so deep, they have been with us since the dawn of time,” said Mackie. “There are communities that have solved poverty, we can solve poverty, but we’re not going to do it with $41,000 in new programming, and we’re definitely not going to do it if the public is not on board. That’s where we need to be focusing right now.”
The website associated with the campaign, ifyouknew.ca, teaches people “what they as an individual, based on their preferences and their interests, can do,” according to Mackie.
The poverty panel came up with 27 recommendations that they will try to initiate over the next 12 months.