Thursday, 22 February 2018

Meet Sophia (not her real name), who lives with a painful illness, raises a son who lives with developmental disabilities, and does all that on a $156 monthly personal allowance, after rent and power bills are paid, and an arrears to Community Services is dealt with. Please let that sink in. $156 per month.  At the bottom of the story we tell you what you can do to help change this.

Budget pressures force public libraries in Cumberland County to reduce hours. Expect more announcements like this as the government is slowly squeezing public libraries in rural Nova Scotia, just to save a couple of pennies, really. To quote the Cumberland County deputy chief librarian Chantelle Taylor, ““We offer this precious little jewel of a service, it does pretty good with the little money it gets, and nobody seems to recognize this fantastic thing.”

Gottingen Street, one of Halifax main thoroughfares, used to extend into the far North End. But in 1981 Halifax Council voted that the northern segment of Gottingen Street, beyond the Young Street intersection, now be called Novalea Drive. The reasons behind that decision were tainted by racism and prejudice, and a survey of residents’ opinions conducted by the City purposely excluded most residents who lived along the street. Maybe it’s time to make things right again.

“For many years I held full time employed positions, mainly minimum wage, and have paid my taxes dutifully to this government. Then something happened in my life that rendered me and my 16 year old daughter homeless. As a last resort I took myself and my daughter to seek refuge at a homeless shelter. My daughter was accepted without a problem, but I was not accepted as I was employed full time.” Lucy MacDonald shares a letter she sent to premier Stephen McNeil about being homeless, and about trying to make ends meet while on Income Assistance.

We featured Brent and Donna, the Sheet Harbour couple on income assistance, in an earlier story about the terrible state of disrepair of their public housing unit. Community Services used to pay their entire power bill, but last week they contacted me because all of a sudden they are saddled with a $60 monthly share. They don’t know why, and they don’t know how they are going to deal with it.

Earlier today we posted a letter to premier Stephen McNeil written by a new coalition of poverty organizations and advocates who want a substantial increase in income assistance rates and real input in the Employment Support and Income Assistance transformation that is mostly happening in secret and without real community input. That letter was a bit long, this press release is the Coles notes version.

Last December a coalition of more than 25 anti-poverty organizations and advocates released A Call to Action: Community Agenda for Social Assistance Adequacy and Reform. Not satisfied with the response by a civil servant, the coalition once again makes its case, asking for a a substantial increase in Income Assistance rates, meaningful consultation, and a meeting with the premier. Meanwhile, there are way more signatories now.

“Let’s hope it’s not too late for Dennis Patterson,” writes Judy Haiven about the man who was charged with drunk driving causing death after he struck Wray Hart. “He’s got to think about his own privilege and the fact that he, like others in his MBA cohort, are supposed to make “ethical and socially sustainable decisions” and understand “the role that ethical and socially-sustainable factors play” while studying for his MBA. Maybe now he needs to question his own privilege and consider why he ever believed it was OK to drive while under the influence.”