KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – Well, in 2019 one thing we saw was the very slow implementation of the so-called ESIA transformation at the department of Community Services. A standard household rate finally came into effect after being talked about since this Liberal government first came to power.
I’ve been told that what’s next is that Community Services will be looking into issues of social inclusion. We will wait and see. My new Year’s resolution is “Lets keep a close eye on what is next.”
I hear from people in my community that social inclusion is a much bigger issue than Community Services realizes. Holidays like New Years Eve are one such reminder.
In this story here, Pretending New Year’s Eve isn’t even happening, I mention several barriers that keep people living in poverty from celebrating New Years. I use the free New Year’s Eve event at Parade Square as an example of anxiety that people living in poverty experience. Celebrating bringing in the New Year is different for those who are living in poverty.
Those I talk with in my community tell me that social inclusion to them means a wide range of things. They worry that Community Services is not going to look at all that.
New Years and certain other holidays remind them that friendships they once had in life have since ended, for whatever reason. It reminds them that their former friends are now doing better in life.
Income Assistance recipients see people moving on in life, being financially better off, driving vehicles, being in relationships and living healthy lives. Income Assistance recipients ask, “Why can’t it be us?”
Then of course as I also talk about how people on assistance cannot afford expensive registration fees to join social groups within what is now their $850 (or less) standard household rate budget. This story here, Poverty and staying healthy and fit, is an example. Joining fitness centres is a great opportunity for healthy inclusion, but too expensive for us.
Here is a story, The double stigma of poverty and mental health, where one welfare recipient expressed interest in wanting to play ice hockey if there only was a way he could afford the expensive registration fee.
I have talked with some income assistance recipients who tell me that when they have to depend on soup kitchens all year around, including the holiday meals, they feel marginalized. This is a strong point that they are hoping Community Services will look at.
So I will end this story by saying, let’s make it our New Year’s resolution to keep an eye on social inclusion and what Community Services is doing to address this in the transformation.
The best thing to do is to create a social inclusion tax credit.
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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