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him. In a world where the children of one Father are made, as it would seem, purposely dependent upon each other for so many things, material help, given and taken in the spirit of true brotherhood, the spirit of Christ, should not necessarily be pauperizing to the receiver. If it seems to be so, it is because the receiver has been pauperized already. If the truth of our human brotherhood were fully realized, neither misfortune nor its resulting dependence could be regarded as degrading, whether in the case of the invalid of the home or of the destitute of the great family.

But the complexity of life often prevents the giver and the receiver of help from coming into that personal contact which promotes real sympathy. And the bestowal of alms, in the grudging and often contemptuous spirit in which a bone is thrown to a dog, is apt to have a degrading influence, though the fault may lie more with the giver than with the receiver. The old patriarchal relations of rich and poor have passed away forever, together with more primitive times; and we now deal with poverty more or less mechanically, through the medium of some sort of machinery. We regard the poor rather in the mass than as individuals. Since we cannot bring back the old simple plan of individual helping individual,— by far the best plan, if wisely pursued,—it is needful that we should give the more careful consideration to the causes and remedies of that perplexing mass of poverty which is, to so great an extent, the result of scarcity of work, but also too often of shiftlessness, improvidence, laziness, and intemperance.


How are we to deal with it, so that, while we relieve, as we surely must, the bitter stress of cold and hunger, we may at the same time raise, not depress, in the social scale, the objects of our care?

We sometimes hear it gravely maintained by those who should be able to take a wider view that only the "deserving" poor should be helped at all. Now, aside from the consideration that the most "undeserving" often have young and helpless families, whom we cannot leave to perish, they would have to be very undeserving to be worthy of capital punishment by starvation. Moreover, if modern scientific investigation teaches us anything, in this connection, it is that we must judge others relatively to the circumstances of their lives,— their heredity and environment. For, while it follows from the divine Fatherhood and human brotherhood that all men are born with an equal birthright to the freedom of action

which belongs to rational beings, it is by no means true that all men are born equally free to follow the dictates of reason. Still less is it true that all are gifted with equal mental and physical powers or even with equal powers of discerning between right and wrong. More than this, evolutionary science teaches us that all living beings are subject to a law of degeneration or reversion to a more primitive type, when the influences are withdrawn which guided their ascent in the scale of life. In civilized communities it is not uncommon to find whole families thus lapsed into semi-barbarism. But among our poor, especially among those who have come to us from the Old World, we have many families of more or less degenerate stock. The degrading influence of their environment. for generations has sent them into the world with weakened physiques, enfeebled minds, relaxed energies; and they are, in consequence, of an inferior moral type. Such unfortunates can no more help these characteristics than they can help the color of their eyes or hair. Shiftlessness, improvidence, lack of energy, tendency to dependence, even a craving for drink, are as certainly the result of their deteriorated constitutions as the energies, the foresight, the independence on which we are too apt to plume ourselves, are our heritage from ancestors moulded under widely different circumstances. When we add to such constitutional tendencies the influence of insanitary surroundings, precarious employment, seasons of semi-starvation, and too generally badly prepared food, we have to deal with an ever-increasing number of families already pauperized by nature, whose members, nevertheless, claim our earnest sympathy and uplifting aid. Shall we dare to stigmatize these degenerates as unworthy,,when they are simply what heredity, environment, and our social system have made them?

In Canada much of the pauperism scattered throughout our communities arises from the influx of degenerate English emigrants. The extremes of heat and cold to which they are here subjected, and the extent to which they are usually obliged to depend upon charity from the time of their arrival, strengthen their natural tendency to pauperism. Add to this prolific source of poverty two others: (1) the tide of commercial depression which has overflowed this continent, paralyzing many industries and driving hundreds of men from the ranks of skilled into those of unskilled labor; and (2) what must be reckoned a permanent factor in our national life, the

inclemency of our winters, which almost entirely arrests outdoor work, and during several months of every year reduces the ordinary laborer to compulsory idleness, and those the very months in which nourishing food and fuel, expensive necessaries of life, are most imperatively needed. Of course, it is easy, with the cheerful readiness we usually display in settling our neighbor's affairs, to say that John Smith should have saved enough from his summer's pay to tide him over the winter. Possibly he might have done so if, in the first place, he had had steady work all summer; and if, in the second, he and Mrs. Smith had been models of economy and good management.

We have in Canada no official system of outdoor relief and very little paid agency. Hitherto we have dealt with the problem of poverty provisionally, contenting ourselves with tiding over the necessities of the hour. Each city and town has adopted whatever means. of relieving distress has seemed most practicable under local conditions. In some places relief is granted mainly from civic funds, but dispensed by voluntary agents; in some, a distributing agent is paid by the municipality, while the funds dispensed are supplied by individual generosity; in some, municipal funds are distributed by a paid official; while, in others, the funds devoted to poor relief are voluntarily contributed, with small occasional aid from civic sources, and the distributors are volunteers.

In Toronto, the Queen City of the West, where many benevolent institutions are maintained with exceptional generosity, a low estimate of the public and private expenditure for relief (chiefly private) is $300,000. That this amount is insufficient to meet the actual needs of the situation is shown by the sad fact that recently there were in Toronto jail twenty-eight old people shut up with felons for no crime but destitution and helpless age. About $17,000 was granted by the city council last year for outdoor relief, which was distributed chiefly by the managing board of the House of Industry, composed of leading gentlemen, by whom the entire city is divided into districts visited by unpaid male agents, who investigate the needs of applicants; and all able-bodied men, as a condition of receiving aid, are assigned a certain amount of wood-cutting or stonebreaking. There is, besides, the Toronto Relief Society, managed by ladies, who within a more limited sphere administer relief in case of need, and, with no small devotion, maintain an industrial depart

ment for women, giving out needlework, for which a fair rate of remuneration is paid, and which is afterward sold, — with some difficulty, owing to the competition of cheap goods in city shops. A relief officer is paid by the city; but he simply receives applications, and sends the applicants to the proper quarters for relief. It is estimated that during last year more than eight thousand persons received aid, the proportion amounting to about one in every twentytwo of the population, which is nearly double the corresponding proportion in London, England. There are also the usual national and church relief societies. Complaint is made, as a matter of course, of “overlapping.” On the other hand, it is maintained, by some of those who look into the matter in detail, that this "overlapping" amounts only to the supplementing by one society the insufficient aid given by others, -- especially in cases where families are large. There are also complaints that the same families are helped year after year. This is a universal complaint, but nothing else can be expected under present conditions.

In Montreal the city maintains a relief department in connection with the House of Industry and Refuge, whose board of management, an influential committee of gentlemen, includes representatives of the various national societies, who administer relief derived from private generosity, after due investigation, but without any labor test. There, too, an industrial work similar to that in Toronto is carried on by a committee of ladies, who furnish employment to about two hundred poor women, and encounter the same difficulties in disposing of the articles made.

In Halifax, outdoor relief is administered by a city official; but the fund is supplied by voluntary subscription,- voluntary in the fullest sense, since it is unsolicited. As in Toronto, recipients of relief, if able-bodied, are expected to do a certain amount of work in return for the aid given.

In St. John, N.B., a very large almshouse receives a considerable proportion of the needy, who are employed in the work of the institution. Outdoor relief is given, when needed, from public funds, by the Almshouse Commission after strict investigation.

The prosperous city of Hamilton annually votes $6,000 for outdoor relief, and pays an official to administer the same. Last year the amount was insufficient to meet the existing need; and a special collection was made in the city by a benevolent association of ladies,

in order to supplement it. The arrangement is not satisfactory, since the task of investigating applications is more than one man can accomplish.

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In London, Ontario, the city grants relief in certain cases; and the Women's Christian Association also collects and distributes voluntary contributions. In St. Thomas and Belleville the municipal council grants annually a considerable sum for outdoor relief, the administration of which is intrusted to a committee of benevolent ladies. In Brookville, relief by the town is administered by a municipal committee.

In the city of Kingston the funds for outdoor relief are raised almost entirely by voluntary contribution and are dispensed by unpaid agencies. The St. Vincent de Paul Society cares for the Roman Catholic poor; and the City Poor Relief Association, managed by ladies, for the rest of the city poor. These ladies not only collect funds and visit the homes of applicants, but they attend in turn daily at their committee-rooms to receive applications for aid, which are then investigated. In order to prevent imposition, the committee includes representatives from church and other benevolent agencies; and, in the face of great discouragement, it maintains a small industrial department for giving work to poor women. For two or three years past a small grant of $200 has been made by the municipality, which is divided between the two societies.

In the small town of Gananoque, near Kingston, the town council appoints one man to look after the few cases of need; and it supplies him with the necessary funds. This is the plan generally adopted by small towns and townships, where the demand for relief is only occasional, and where there is neither scope nor material for a special organization.

In our capital city, Ottawa, an official is paid a small salary by the city council. All applications for relief are referred by him to some one of the generous church societies, which care for nearly all cases of destitution. In exceptional cases he has permission to give what is required from the public funds. He also acts as supervisor of the potato-patch or garden-plot system, which, though it has been tried in other places, has been more satisfactorily worked out in Ottawa than elsewhere in Canada, possibly because of the special facilities offered, and also because of the earnestness with which it has been prosecuted. For an expenditure of about $100 a return was secured

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