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Kendall Worth: My meeting with Dartmouth North MLA Susan Leblanc

Kendall and Susan Leblanc. Contributed.

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – Last week I sat down for coffee with Dartmouth North MLA Susan Leblanc.

I wanted to ask her for help with drafting a petition against the clawback of Employment Insurance payments for people who are on social assistance and lost their job.

When you are on social assistance you are entitled to keep a portion of the money you earn. But EI payments, that you paid into while working, are clawed back completely. How is that fair?

Susan asked me what my thoughts were on people who end up on social assistance.

I told Susan the short answer to your question is that each situation of people on income assistance is different.

Then I said, “There are some stories I have heard that I will not write about in the Advocate or talk about.”

“Susan, these stories of what happened that got them to not doing so well in life today would scare both you and the public if I was to talk about them,” I said.

When we talked about how hard it is to make ends meet under those conditions, Susan mentioned that one issue she encounters often is that people on social assistance get into rental and Nova Scotia Power bill arrears.

Part of the work of her office is speaking with Nova Scotia Power and landlords to try not get their power cut off, and to try to help them avoid eviction notices.  

I also brought up the social isolation that is part of the lives of many people who are on income assistance.

I mentioned the many articles I have written about that topic, and the solution I propose of a 24/7 drop in centre.

Susan told me that if the 24/7 drop/in centre already existed it would benefit several people who live in the community of Dartmouth North that she represents in the House.

Susan and I also discussed the fact that a drop-in centre could be much more than just an affordable place to go when soup kitchens and food banks are closed.  

It could be place where during the day time programming happens, for example the Halifax Humanities program, a class in financial literacy, and all kinds of educational programs, etc.

Then at night we could offer a free meal, free coffee 24/7, and one section for beds for the homeless.

These are just some examples.

Altogether,  the story All alone, Kendall Worth on the roots of isolation, elaborates even more on what can be offered at a 24/7 drop-in centre.

I also talked about my personal experiences of once living in Dartmouth North myself.

It appears to me that Susan Leblanc is paying much better attention to her community then Joanne Bernard ever did when she was MLA for Dartmouth North. Susan is a much better fighter for Dartmouth North.   

Meeting with Susan Leblanc is always a pleasure. She is very supportive in wanting changes for the better, I find.

Kendall Worth is a tireless anti-poverty activist who lives with disabilities and tries to make ends meet on income assistance.

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