KJIPUKTUK (Halifax), May 7, 2019
Dear Community Services Standing Committee,
CC: Minister Kelly Regan and Premier Stephen McNeil
I recently read the Hansard transcript of the January meeting of the Standing Committee on Community Services, where you talked about possibly inviting the Benefits Reform Action Group, and also about the many emails I often send you.
Question – Is BRAG still interested in appearing before the Standing Committee as well as have a meeting with the Premier and the Minister if we had the opportunity?
Answer – Yes we would!
Question – Why?
Answer – You as MLAs are in the driver’s seat of having the power to make change.
We at BRAG have been directed to meet with bureaucrat Brandon Grant. BRAG refuses to meet with him, because Brandon Grant presents himself as someone who is there to listen but does not have the power to make change.
It seems some MLAs who are sitting on that committee do not understand why I need to bring what I talk about in the Nova Scotia Advocate to MLAs’ attention.
Well, if you were look through my various stories in the Nova Scotia Advocate, you will find that the current system of Employment Support and Income Assistance needs changing.
When our Liberal government first came to power in 2013, they promised a transformation of this system. I advocate in the Nova Scotia Advocate for people on the ground who are having experience with the way this system currently is.
People find the Employment Support and Income Assistance system abusive, intrusive, condemning them to live the life of loneliness and social isolation – and then not having enough money to pay the bills and live healthy lives.
What people like you and the Premier and the Minister, people who have the power to make changes, need to understand is how how the income assistance system is punishing the various people in the community who have no choice but to to depend on it.
This is another reason why I send you my articles.
Stories that BRAG members Tim Blades and Aron Spidle wrote for the Nova Scotia Advocate also show evidence of this.
Even though within the past year the odd positive change has happened, including the free bus passes and the new work incentive, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done.
Why is it taking so long for anything good to happen is the question here.
Anyway, Standing Committee, if you are interested in bringing BRAG forward as witnesses, I suggest we’re willing!
Kendall Worth is an award-winning anti-poverty activist who lives with disabilities and tries to make ends meet on income assistance.
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My wife, Cheryl Harawitz, chaired that committee years ago and was the first to invite community members to share their experience. I’m not sure what happened to the report she submitted.
We’re now in Alameda, California
Actually I chaired the aAdvisory Committee of the Family and Children’s Services Act and the Adoption Information Act. And yes,it was the first time that committee heard directly through oresentations and reports from the community. More than fifty individuals clients and groups such as the Child Protection Team from the IWK presented to us. The final report was presented to the Minister of Community Services. It was submitted in July of 2009.