Paula Ducharme is running for the Communist Party in the riding of Fort Rouge in Manitoba’s April 19 election.
She had her first job in Fort Rouge – in her early teens she worked out of Mulvey Avenue riding a Dicky Dee ice cream cart for the summer.
One of the issues she is speaking out about is poverty.
“I think it is absolutely abhorrent that we have child poverty, let alone people and families struggling with poverty. Poverty also impacts women at a disproportionate level. Clearly, we need some answers to eliminating poverty,” Paula says. “I know lots of people, myself included, who have used food banks and I volunteered at a food bank for a year and a half. I left because of the sad, oppressive system that it is – and I don’t knock people who work at food banks, and those who use food banks. However, co-opting poor people to distribute overly ripened produce and unhealthy food that is nearly expired isn’t the solution”
Paula points to rising food bank usage as a clear indication that this approach to fighting poverty is not working. Manitoba’s food banks feed 63,791 people each month, up 58% since 2008.
“I wholeheartedly believe that soup kitchens, food banks, and some NGOs, maintain the status of the poor, which is very problematic, drawing us further away from finding a solution. These are band aid solutions that ensure that the impoverished remain impoverished,” Paula says. “If we are looking at progress and stepping in the right direction, if we raised the minimum wage and had a guaranteed minimum income above the poverty line, we wouldn’t have anything near the level of poverty we have today. If you raise the minimum wage to $20 we will be way closer to having people have food, clothing and housing.”
She also has serious concerns about the crisis of affordable housing in Winnipeg, with Manitoba Housing Authority and slum lords. “I’ve personally experienced racism and discrimination first hand,” she says, noting that slum lords often pick on people with disabilities.
She points to countless stories of tenants in social housing being treated by the system as if they were lazy and worthless, with no respect for privacy, as well as facing infestations, lack of maintenance, and the continuing presence of asbestos and mold. Instead, Paula is fighting for building new social housing which is affordable, accessible, quality and, most importantly, safe for women and families.
“The reason I chose to run as a candidate is because the politics I see today I recognize as problematic. I’ve never been really involved in ‘electoral politics,’” she says. Instead Paula has been a strong voice for action on Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women, as well as Human Rights and an affinity for Aboriginal Youth Opportunities.
Paula is not afraid to call out the many dangers and injustice faced daily by Indigenous women and girls on the streets of Winnipeg — from the legacy and ongoing reality of colonialism, to sex traffickers and pedophiles who prey on the community.
“I really believe that the time for change is now, enough with these ‘Old Boy’s Club’ type politics. Power to the people! It is time for a new type of politics. We need a people’s party, we need to bring the people back to politics, and we need to be working with the people, for the people, by the people!”