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Kendall Worth: A sit-down with Halifax NDP candidate Christine Saulnier

Kendall chats with NDP candidate and long time anti poverty activist Christine Saulnier.
Christine Saulnier and Kendall. Contributed.

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – As I am sure many of you know, Christine Saulnier is running as an MP candidate for the Halifax seat in this federal election. I just want to say that I have known Christine Saulnier for the past 10 years or more. I , and others who know Christine, would be very proud to have Christine represent Halifax as my MP in Ottawa if elected. 

I should mention that I have personally gotten to know Christine Saulnier through several volunteer activities that I have been engaged in over the past several years of my life. This includes the fact that she is a member of Benefits Reform Action Group, and certain other groups that are advocating for better systems and to end poverty.  

See also: News brief: Christine Saulnier wants to be Halifax’ next Member of Parliament

Christine was excited to have me interview her. She is a regular reader of the Nova Scotia Advocate, and when it comes to stories about local poverty here in Halifax, she tells me she is always happy to see those articles. 

According to Christine, the stuff that I write for the Advocate brings awareness to what the real poverty issues are here in Halifax. Christine is a strong believer in the fact that the problems that the level of poverty here in Halifax can be solved by government. 

Christine and I both know that the income assistance program through the Department of Community Services is provincial. However she is a strong believer in the fact that work to improve the lives of these people can and should also be done on the federal level as well as on the provincial level.

However, we both agree that “one solution whether that turns out to be a new and improved system provincially or if a guaranteed income gets started for example, is not going to solve everything, as in every single problem persons living in poverty are having”. 

One of the things Christine and I talked about is a basic guaranteed income.  Christine was telling me about how much she supports this idea, and she is all for this.

Christine also supports things like:

  • Improving mental Health Services
  • All Medications should be covered
  • Building affordable housing.
  • Creation of new social housing
  • Affordable housing has to come with supports around it.
  • Supporting everyone to get services they need.

These are examples why Christine believes that basic income alone is only going to solve part of the problem. 

One strong point that her and I talked about while taking her story is that fact that “if the government was to implement a basic income, “how do we make sure that basic income does not affect people in a negative way? 

For example – the federal government would need to talk to the provincial governments to make sure that what basic income anyone receives from the feds – making sure that it does not get clawed back from provincial income assistance programs.

During our interview her and I talked about the idea of creating a persons with disabilities income. Christine tells me she personally supports the idea.

Where this idea came from is the fact that her and I are both well aware of the Employment Support and Income Assistance program here in Nova Scotia. Persons with Disabilities who cannot hold down hold down full time employment because of their disabilities deserve to be receiving income from a program that is much better then income assistance. 

Even though Christine and I both know the system here in Nova Scotia, we both heard from people in other provinces that their systems of receiving welfare are not much better. Christine said she has been hearing from people while campaigning that some persons with disabilities are having problems qualifying for the disability tax credit. Christine believes that the federal definition of disability needs to change. 

What is currently available through the Federal Government for senior citizens is GIS and OAS. You have to be 65 years of age and older to access those programs. Christine said to me during our interview that while she was knocking on doors, something she heard from seniors is more and more of them are finding it harder and harder to pay rent and make ends meet. Christine agrees that hearing this is concerning. Also Christine said when she knocks on doors she hears some heartbreaking stories relating to why people are living in poverty. She would not get into details of what those stories were, but she said they are concerning.

According to Christine the NDP wants to cover dental care for all Canadians and lower cell phone bills. The NDP is about making life more affordable and she supports what the NDP is all about.  That is why she is running. 

Let’s hope she wins! 

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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