KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – So anyway, as I mentioned in my last Nova Scotia Advocate article, this current Liberal Government has not done anything to show that they care about people living in poverty. But it was by no means the first or only government that does not care.
This article talks about why I would consider running for MLA.
I developed an interest in politics when I worked for the Street Feat newspaper, which is now out of business. The NDP Caucus at the time was a supporter of Street Feat, and I got to know most of the NDP MLAs at the time through having that connection.
In a nutshell this is what is wrong with politics in Nova Scotia:
- I have seen too many MLAs make promises during their campaigns that they would speak up about poverty if elected, but once elected they don’t keep that promise.
- I have seen too many people on income assistance suffer because of the Department of Community Services.
- I have seen too many people with mental health issues falling through the cracks of the mental health system in Nova Scotia and become stigmatized and isolated.
- I have seen Joanne Bernard, the current minister of Community Services, break her promises and make Employment Support and Income Assistance (ESIA) worse.
- I have seen housing become more and more unaffordable.
- I have seen people get cut off income assistance for reasons that do not make sense.
A strong voice for poor people and against Community Services bureaucrats
If I ran for MLA and got elected I would be the strong voice speaking up for the people who are affected. I have met with bureaucrats who do not care about how the system is affecting people. As an MLA I would speak up to these bureaucrats.
When it comes to mental health I would like to see is a 24/7 centre for people living in social isolation. I talked about this centre in one of my past articles for the Nova Scotia Advocate. As discussed in my “Hey ho-ho mental health stigma has got to go” I would fight for mental health consumer peer support groups that I believe do not exist in parts of Nova Scotia other than Halifax.
The 24/7 centre I describe in “Kendall Worth: Social isolation needs our attention 24/7” might be something some of the other members of my party might be interested in wanting to get going, even if other MLAs are not interested.
The ESIA policies are putting the health of people living in poverty at great risk. It seems to me that often the true meaning of social determinants of health is ignored when policies are being drafted.
In past articles I wrote about people losing their special diets. As an MLA, I would fight for Omega 3 Supplements and similar products to be covered by Department of Community Services.
Income assistance in Nova Scotia is not enough for people to live on. Getting out of poverty, chronic stress and health, improving health, human development and education are not on teh radar of Community Services.
Health matters: special diets, mental health, sports facilities
You have to think about physical health as well as mental health here. Community Services has never paid for gym passes and memberships for things like indoor swimming pools.
I can say in my personal experience of having Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, swimming is a real good exercise to keep my symptoms of OCD under control.
For that reason, if I was elected as an MLA, I would fight to get gym passes and memberships for indoor swimming pools covered through ESIA.
I once wrote an article for the Nova Scotia Advocate, Teaching about poverty in schools and universities, about why students should be taught about local poverty.
The final thing I would say is that my editor Robert Devet had written several articles about a place called Quest and why that place needs to shut down. Getting that place shut down is an example of something-else I would support. After all, these people have every right to be part of the community.
Keeping your promises
When you are running for MLA you need to plan firmly how you are going to keep your promises if you get elected by the people of your area. From my personal experience some tend to forget the people they represent.
If elected MLA here in Halifax my main focus would be to speak up in the House of Assembly about the terrible poverty issues here in the city, and how systemic problems at the department of Community Services have major impacts on their health.
I would fight for the things I mention in this article to happen. After all I believe that if we want to see improvement in the lives and social fabric of the poverty community, what I talk about in this article is an important part of what needs to happen.
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