It’s the election issue poverty experts say no one wants to discuss but it’s costing the Niagara community $1.3 billion a year.

“Poverty doesn’t get talked about,” said Lori Kleinsmith, a health promotor with Bridges Community Health Centre in Port Colborne. “The P word is rarely mentioned.”

She said the fact Canada doesn’t have a national action plan on poverty is a big part of the problem.

Our most basic needs are physiological — air, water, food, shelter and clothing — followed by safety, belongingness and love, esteem, self-actualization and self-transcendence. Without meeting basic physiological needs, we cannot survive. So the first responsibility of governments is to ensure everyone’s basic needs are met.

Many of our basic needs are enshrined in the UN Declaration on Human Rights. Article 25 states: “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing.” Note that the word is “everyone,” not some, most or nearly everyone.