Plight of the disenfranchised in 2016 will make headlines for years to come

One Man's Opinion
By Doug Collins
December 27, 2016 - 11:00am

KAMLOOPS —  Every year at this time, we start to see items about the biggest stories of the year. In the world perspective, Donald Trump’s seemingly unlikely rise to the presidency has loomed above all else. I joke not when I say he might be the top news story for years to come depending on what he does.

In Canada, news editors have picked the Fort McMurray wildfire as the story of the year. That story had a big impact on people, industry, and the whole well-being of the country. No doubt huge.

But the biggest stories for me are always the ones that hit closest to home. And the story that impacted me the most last year was the story of the disenfranchised. It is a testimony to the sad state in which we find ourselves that the number of drug-related deaths continues to escalate, that the number of homeless people continues to jump, and the amount of money we spend on supporting these people in need isn’t rising fast enough, despite the calls for increased funding.

I’m not blaming the government for not solving the problem. We rely far too much on governments to solve everything and they just aren’t capable of it. The government is reacting to the issue, but the supply of funding isn’t limitless. And that’s just a fact.

So how do we deal with these issues?  How do we find money for treatment programs, how do we find money to provide shelter?  What is the root of these problems? We can’t treat them unless we know the root causes.

And we’re only talking right here about those suffering from drug issues and homelessness. What about the rest of the disenfranchised population? What about the intolerable conditions on First Nations reserves, what about those living below the poverty line, scraping by from day to day, or the seniors who can’t make ends meet because they exist on a meager pension that nowhere near covers their costs?

And while I worry about Donald Trump, and the recovery from the Fort McMurray wildfire, I worry far more about the increasing number of disenfranchised whose needs we just can’t meet. And it’s getting worse day by day. Bob Hughes of Ask Wellness said last week what we’re doing now is just barely stopping the bleeding when it comes to drug dependency problems. But the bigger issue involves strategies that create long term solutions. Those solutions involve more than money, and affect many more than those dealing with drug issues.

This is the big story that faces us going forward. Four years down the road, Donald Trump may well be a has been, the economy should be well recovered from the wildfire in Fort Mac. I am not sure the story of the disenfranchised will be any better than it is now. Without an immediate start on some long term planning, it could well be worse.