Kjipuktuk (Halifax) – It seems to me that Larry Harrison, the Conservative MLA for Colchester – Musquodoboit Valley does not know income assistance from a hole in the ground.
What makes me say this are his remarks at the February 7th, 2017 Community Services Standing Committee meeting, and his subsequent radio interview on CBC Maritime Noon.
He believes Nova Scotia should hire people on income assistance to pick up garbage and cut brush along the highways.
The thing is, the Employment Support and Income Assistance (ESIA) program serves many persons with disabilities who cannot work because of their health and other challenges.This is why they are even on income assistance in the first place.
Cleaning up highways is physically demanding labour and a lot of people on income assistance cannot handle that for health and disability reasons. Disability is a limitation in activities such as work, housework, or school or, more broadly, as any limitation in any activity.
This is often persons with disabilities receive income assistance in the first place – and why this type of work he is proposing for income assistance is unsafe and not suitable for a large portion of income assistance recipients.
It appears that MLA Larry Harrison is not paying attention to this factor.
I say this because the work of picking up garbage and cutting brush on the side of highways is physically demanding work. It is also dangerous, especially also for some people who live with mental disabilities. Also, some who are on income assistance do not have the capacity to handle and operate the type of equipment required for cutting brush.
Also, most people on income assistance, after the first $150.00 they earn, 70% gets clawed back from their checks. There are some cases where someone on ESIA can earn $300.00 before 70% gets clawed back. I don’t know for how many cases however this is allowed.
Furthermore, not all income assistance clients gets approved for transportation allowances. So how are income assistance clients supposed to get out to the highways?
It also seems to me that Larry Harrison does not know or pay attention to the community of people living with disabilities and mental health issues. Otherwise he would very well know that a lot of people on income assistance cannot work for those reasons.
He has no idea how many people he offended by his recent actions.
You do however have to give him some, but very little, credit, considering he is trying to help these constituents who personally came to him about wanting to get work.
However, I believe that he should have kept that conversation between him, those constituents and the directors of ESIA. He should not have gone to the media.
As part of the job of being a Nova Scotia MLA you are supposed to pay attention and know the resources available to Nova Scotians. It appears that Larry Harrison is not paying attention to his job.
For this reason, I think it is time for Larry to step down as MLA.
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