KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – Hello, Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, my name is Kendall Worth.
First, I want to congratulate you on your recent decision to get a National Advisory Council on Poverty started. This shows that you care about poverty in this country and that you have a keen and caring interest in wanting to address the poverty issues that are facing citizens of this country.
I will say that here in Nova Scotia, which is where I live, our minister of Community Services has been promising a transformation of our system of income assistance for the past five years. We have seen some evidence of it, but altogether very little change for the better.
Hopefully your plan will go a lot better and things to eliminate poverty will move faster. People living in poverty are suffering.
First, allow me to provide you with a bit of background on who I am and why I am involved with advocating to end poverty. I am well acquainted with the Employment Support and Income Assistance (ESIA) program delivered by Community Services.
I was diagnosed with learning disabilities and OCD. Here are two stories I wrote in the Halifax Media Coop talking about those invisible disabilities: My life with Impulse Control Disorder, and also this one, How to deal with learning disabilities.
I want you to know that even though my interest and experience has been all about poverty in Nova Scotia, I have also been hearing from people who live in other parts of Canada.
These people tell me that the receiving welfare in other provinces isn’t much better. To me this is concerning because I personally have a lot of friends who are formerly from Nova Scotia who are now living in Ontario and in Western Canada.
Here in Nova Scotia our system of Employment Support and Income Assistance is:
- abusive toward clients, especially those who need help the most;
- full of bureaucratic nonsense and systemic problems with trying to qualifying for what support is available;
- promotes that living life with social isolation is OK;
- causes ESIA clients to develop depression and anxiety while receiving income assistance;
- provides not enough money to live on;
- requires caseworkers to know too much personal information about you.
I am a writer for the Nova Scotia Advocate and in my journalism I often expose the Department of community Services. Here is the link to my published journalism: https://nsadvocate.org/author/kendall-worth/” These stories will give you great input on the reality of poverty as well as the take from Nova Scotia.
Also included within this link are three letters I wrote to our provincial minister of Community Services, with suggestions on what needs to be done to improve the system here in Nova Scotia.
So my first suggestion is that you need to investigate the Department of Community Services, and you need to investigate what each province offers to their clients who depends on programs such as In Nova Scotia Employment Support and Income Assistance.
Something I suggest which would solve all the problems that persons with disabilities are having is the creation of a persons with disabilities tax free income.
Better yet, what really needs to happen is development of a guaranteed annual income and provide enough for everyone to live on.
One more suggestion I have before ending this letter is for you to look at the housing market in each province. Here in Nova Scotia the cost of housing keeps increasing.
I suggest maybe your department should provide subsidies for housing federally. Here in Nova Scotia the shelter allowance that ESIA provides is $535.00. That amount has to include all utilities. In Nova Scotia if your rent and utilities are priced over $535.00 then the remainder of the cost has to come out of your $275.00 personal allowance. These days the cheapest in rent is known to be $750.00.
Anyway, I hope under a federal poverty plan, things will get better.
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