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Kendall Worth on welfare transformation consultation: First voices not heard


KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – The presentation about the proposed welfare transformation that Community Services put on line here make me think things might get better, but that there are also lots of reason to be concerned.

This here is the really important thing. 

Kendall Worth. Photo Halifax Media Co-op

Something that is talked about on page 20 of this presentation is financial support. The whole presentation talks about wanting to improve the system, however nowhere does it say that new money is going to be invested in the system to increase allowances.

This is concerning because there really does need to be a major increase in allowances for people to be able to live.

Not my first voice, and not the first voices that I know

The first thing I found concerning and strongly feel needs to be addressed is what was talked about on page 18. This is where Community Services reports on what it learned from its so called First Voice consultation sessions. Also included on this page are the results of the survey that social assistance clients completed online.


From what I hear in my day-to-day life, it seem to me that the real  opinions of first voice people themselves differ from those results mentioned on the slides.

Keep in mind  that a lot of first voice people (at least those I know of) were scared to attend these first voice sessions. Many didn’t have access to the survey due to this survey being online. Income assistance clients cannot afford to have internet at home.

Anyway getting back to page 18 of the presentation and why this page is of concern.

Clients got depressed and gave up

70% indicated they know where to access info

This surprised me, because from my personal experience of being on income assistance plus knowing the experiences of others, clients get frustrated with accessing information. Clients I personally talk to tell me that they got depressed and gave up. Also I know, plus have heard from others, that caseworkers themselves sometimes do not want to provide information on resources.

60% agreed that the department requests the same information often

This is true, and it has to stop. One thing that people in the community I talk to say is that caseworkers have got to stop acting like they are medical professionals, especially when it comes to approving special diets.  I have also heard the same from doctors.

There is nothing in the presentation that talks if this is even going to be addressed.

Caseworkers often part of the problem

75% of clients said that they are comfortable talking to their caseworkers

To me personally, and to other income assistance clients I talk to in the community, this 75% number is a major concern plus surprising.  

It is my belief that the reason why the number is so high is because these clients are not paying attention to actual facts of a caseworker’s job. Also that 75% who said “they are comfortable talking to their caseworkers” makes clients such as myself who have had negative experiences with caseworkers worry that issues we have had are not going to get resolved through transformation.  

When it comes to the actual job of their caseworkers, clients who said they are comfortable are not paying attention to the bad policies of social assistance and the fact that caseworkers have to follow these policies.

Also from the experience of me and others is that some if not most of individual caseworkers display negative attitudes towards their clients.

The current system requires clients to have a good relationship with a caseworker. Otherwise receiving your benefits could be affected. This is felt to be a human rights violation for have no choice but to live life with a caseworker in the mix.

Perhaps it is possible that those who said they feel comfortable really do not feel comfortable and were just scared to say it.  

Referrals? What referrals?

26% said they have been referred to a service provider within their community

This surprised me because I personally have never heard of a caseworker referring their clients to an outside service provider. I know I was once referred to a service provider for something, however, this referral did not happen through my caseworker.

75% indicated they were not involved with Employment Services

Ok, this factor did not surprise me. From my experience caseworkers have a habit of not even telling their clients about this service. The clients Iknow who are involved with Employment Services had to find out about that through sources other than their caseworkers and the department as in a whole.  

As a matter of fact they do not tend to tell their clients about any services that are available to them. I personally have also heard of clients who did use Employment services and ended up dropping out. These clients dropped out because Employment Services was doing nothing for them.

Client friendly document? Where?

Mentioned on page 25 of this presentation it says “we developed a client friendly and easy to understand document that will help our clients understand available supports and services”.

Well, I will say as a client myself, I have never seen a copy of this document. A big question here is why is the department keeping this document a secret?

Anyway, all we can do is hope for a better system. The PowerPoint presentation is posted here. Feel free to have a look at it.       

See also:

People on welfare talk back to Community Services. First Voices become One Voice

Group upset about Community Services Welfare Transformation

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