featured Poverty

Letter: The Community Services  surplus — for shame!

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – The Department of Community Services in Nova Scotia managed to end the fiscal year with a $2.4 million surplus in its Employment Support and Income Assistance budget, as reported on the Nova Scotia Advocate on August 2. The very idea of a surplus in this department should make your hair stand on end. This is not money saved by cutting back on inventory, purchasing or travel; this is money that was saved on the backs of poor children, their parents and people who live with disabilities.

As several cuts were made to special diets for those disabled people living with diabetes, Crohn’s, cancer and other illnesses and barriers this past year, you can see where the Department of Community Services saved some of that $2.4 million.

As children had to accompany their parents to food banks because their parents are spending almost 80% of their social assistance cheques on accommodation, you can see where the savings were made.

As poor people dependent upon social assistance for the long term haven’t seen an increase in shelter rates since 1997 – that’s 20 years – you can see where the savings were made.

As cuts were made to transportation for those on social assistance, and as the people can no longer get to their medical appointments or job interviews, particularly in rural Nova Scotia where there is no form of public transportation, you can see where the surplus came from for the year.

The Department of Community Services claims there are fewer caseloads and lower than anticipated expenses; could it be a result of how inaccessible social assistance has become in Nova Scotia? The story of Mike Foley is just one example of how difficult it can be to get on social assistance in this province.

Who ordered the cutback in funding for programs such as Special Diets and Transportation  within the Department of Community Services?  Does our provincial government want a surplus so this badly that they are willing to see children go hungry and disabled people physically suffer from a lack of needed specialized foods?

If our provincial government wants a fiscal surplus at the end of the year, they can start immediately by killing corporate welfare. Our provincial government needs to stop practicing austerity with people’s lives and show some compassion rather than narrowly focus on the bottom line.

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  1. Why have an annual budget if all they want to do is save it from year to year and not put it where it needs to go? It will be cut entirely soon with the government claiming if there is that big a surplus then guess no one needs it!! This is so unacceptable. It is there to be spent on the needy not saved and spent on the politicians!

  2. And just wait, the development to the end of this whole “Surplus” will be that in due time either. Community services workers will likely all get a raise or department heads will get an increase in their retirement funds or supervisors will get a fat bonus. All on the backs of the poor.

    I still believe it’s time that everyone on IA to take a stand as a collective and come together and make Community services accountable for their inhumane treatment of the lower income persons. Start a human rights trial, where their treatment of low-income persons is placed before the law, to have the government held accountable for their deplorable actions and how this system treats its single struggling parents, the disabled and elderly! To FORCE needed changes and to FREEZE their wages and let’s see how they like it.
    It’s time for a change. It won’t happen if we can’t band together to get people to do this… It’s time.

    Did you know, I was told I was NOT allowed to do my GED, without the PERMISSION of my ESS worker because they had to know where the “money was going” even though it doesn’t cost ANYTHING to do the GED. That if I get someone personal to watch my child I have to have a form called the “declaration” signed by who ever is watching my kid and they MUST meet “child care approval” before they are paid BEFORE I can get a job… This kind of treatment is INHUMANE! Tell me this isn’t community services treating people like we’re 2nd class citizens and yet forcing us to endure the abuses they put you through. I for one am done with this kind of treatment. I am going to speak to legal counsel about this and see what I can do because I for one am tired of being THREATENED to be cut off for wanting to better myself. I’m TIRED of seeing this kind of “surplus” when I know people like myself, who are trying to better themselves could use it for a BETTER education!

  3. This is so shameful. People in rural areas do depend on assistance due to lack of jobs are low and foodbanks are only once a month. Rent and power is hugh abd shelter needs to go up same for personnel allowance. Its a shame how they keep people poor.

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