Kendall Worth shows once again how what most people would consider simple problems are often almost insurmountable obstacles for people on income assistance. Poverty, stigma and isolation make many things much more complicated.
Our correspondent Kendall Worth attended one of the welfare transformation meetings organized by Community Services, and he came back disappointed.
In September several MLAs from all three parties attended a screening of My Week on Welfare at the auditorium of the Nova Scotia Art Gallery in downtown Halifax. This is what Aron Spidle, who is featured in the documentary, told the MLAs. “When a friend asks me to do something with them, the first thing that occurs to me is to ‘how can I get out of this gracefully?’ because most of the time I cannot afford it.”
Kate, a fearless mother who we have written about before, fights Community Services and gets the glasses (with warranty) her autistic son requires. It was hard and scary, and it looks like questions the NS Advocate was asking made a bit of a difference. This story has a happy ending, but you can’t help but wonder how many people would just have given up much earlier.
When you’re on income assistance EI benefits and CPP Disability are clawed back 100%. “Taking that money is insulting. People should be allowed to keep these payments, since they contributed to both CPP disability and Employment insurance while working,” writes poverty activist Kendall Worth in an open letter to premier Steven McNeil.
On Wednesday evening several MLAs from all three parties attended a screening of My Week on Welfare at the auditorium of the Nova Scotia Art Gallery in downtown Halifax. My Week on Welfare is a wonderful documentary, produced by Jackie Torrens, that offers glimpses into the lives of income assistance recipients, families and individuals both, trying to make ends meet on a scandalously low food and shelter budget. The screening was organized by BRAG and CASAR members. What follows is what poverty advocate and Nova Scotia Advocate contributor Tim Blades told the MLAs.
Unpublished policies and regulations that say unintended things are part of how Community Services conducts its business.
The Benefits Reform Action Group sent a letter to the Community Services Standing Committee, explaining why it is no longer interested in meetings with bureaucrats that go nowhere.
Anti-poverty activist Kendall Worth on five income assistance recipients who all lost their special diets in the last little while, even though their medical doctors told Community Services that the diet was medically necessary. What to do?
Alec Startford: “The recent changes to the Income Assistance Program are embedded in a traditional worldview that poverty is largely the result of an individual deficit, that people need to work harder to join the workforce, and for those who can’t work, we feel sympathy for their suffering and we want to relieve the pain. The grounding principle in this worldview is that the free market is the best and most efficient way to alleviate poverty. Where it can’t the social welfare system will provide remedial services to relieve suffering.”