People who are on the *system*…welfare, ODSP… they get a bad wrap. Just because they are there, doesn’t mean they want to be there.
Some folks end up there through no fault of their own. You lose your job because you fall ill. Your rent is 800.00 – you can no longer afford it. Or your landlord of 11 years sells his building and informs all that live there that they have two months to move. But now you are on the system. You’re used to working and making good money – but that’s not the case now. Now you must survive an entire month on 591.00 – that’s rent, food, clothes, medical needs, transportation. Your rent *allotment* is considered to be 345.00. lol In a city where it costs approximately (at the lowest) 425.00 JUST to rent a single room where you must share bathroom facillities – what does that leave you to live on? 166.00. So you think you’ll get a roommate and lower the costs? Don’t think you can get just *any* roommate – if it’s the opposite sex they will call you a couple and decide your fate on what that other person earns!! And what happens if you CAN’T find a new place to live? Now you’re homeless…A buspass is 130.00. If you want to search for work or go to a food bank or another resource to get food – churches, community centres. What do you spend on food a month? For a single person? And I mean on food you like… food that’s good for you. If you go to a food bank what do you get? You get starch and carbohydrates. You get rice, pasta, tin foods. And it’s not just one race of people going there. Each person has different requirements. In some places the people cannot eat specific foods for religious reasons. People with diabetes can’t eat any of the above. And don’t expect meat or salad. If you were to have a choice to eat what and how much you need, what would you require to spend on food? To live a healthy and dignified life? What about a phone? You need a phone to call for jobs and get call backs, right? So add that in.
Without proper nutrition you get sick. Your health care costs rise. Your confidence and self esteem drop. Try looking for an apartment and telling your new landlord that you are on the system… Try explaining to a new boss in an interview what you’ve been *doing* with yourself for the last few months. Attempt to get a job where no one is hiring. Then you start to make choices. Do I buy the food I need or get a buspass? Do I pay rent or bills? If I get an interview, how will I get there and what will I wear? If I get a haircut do I cut out some food?
Now – knowing that people are starving – let’s take a look at the special food diet. This was implemented to supply people with foods they need depending on their illnesses. At first it wasn’t well known, but as time went on folks discovered it and took advantage of the fact that they could actually get money for FOOD. So the numbers went up…. well, why not. People need to eat. So now the gov has decided that it’s *unsustainable* to feed people?…they are phasing out this diet. Now you must reapply to the ministry of health, as apposed to social assistance. They will have a list of illnesses they deem appropriate to cover and it will be less money than recipients were originally receiving, perhaps even coupon type mentality. And not all recipients are being grandfathered into the new plan. Another cut, another slash to the poor. Way to go – so proud of our government.
People – all people – have a right to food. There is certainly enough of it on this planet and our government knows this. But here’s the catch. If they raise the rates of social assistance – they have to raise the minimum wages in companies. Minimum wage is still below the poverty line. But if social assistance is near that rate – then they believe people will have no desire to take those low paying jobs. And if they don’t provide social assistance and they just let people die in the streets – they believe there will be a massive uproar in the people… Well, that’s what they need. Massive uproar. Because they ARE starving people.
Food banks were introduced as an emergency measure – they weren’t meant to be part of your monthly income. They weren’t meant to be sustainable.
Health, and healthy food choices should be a normal part of life. Life with dignity. Shame on our government for starving it’s people. No one can be expected to get ahead when they are hungry and this has been proven just by the fact that we have lunch programs or breakfast programs in schools for our children. What are we doing? Feeding them young and then starving them when they grow up?
And so what if you DO get a job, a part time job to start? They take half of your pay OR MORE… each month. So you work this month – they take it off your next cheque…but what if you don’t work next month? They don’t help you get ahead. They hold you down.
Some folks have life long illnesses. They are on the system. Did they ask to get Cancer, or AIDs or Diabetes, or Myofibrillar myopathies?
Truly – stop misconceiving the world around you…know your facts. Help raise awareness – when we raise the lowest of us, we all raise to new heights.
Single folks aside – what about people with children! (Thanks Kayla B for pointing this out.) People have to go day to day worrying about how to feed their children. Have you ever had a small child? In school? Try paying for all the trips. Try telling your child that 6.50 is too much and they have to stay home when all the other children are going on a trip. Try sending your child to school with a lunch comprised of food bank goods. Try spending money on gym suits, day planners, locks for lockers…etc. The list never ends, as anyone with kids knows. And this doesn’t even cover clothing them… in what they feel comfortable in – because kids make fun of each other. And what about how they are treated when they are asked what their parents do for a living? Bring your parents to school? Really? How about having your friend over at lunch time? What are you going to feed them?
Then there’s a whole other section – folks that were brought up on assistance – and then the grown up children go on it. It’s all they know. Maybe they had a parent that had a life long illness, that couldn’t work. All that child knows is the system. We all learn coping mechanisms and tools of survival from our caretakers, our providers – and this is what they learn. No one knows anything but what they are taught when they are younger. As you get older you learn for yourself. But it’s ok – because if they get a job – assistance will just take some of that money to keep them there.
All in all. Poor people are not criminals, or lazy or wanting to be on the system. They are aware that working provides better money. They are aware that it’s no fun to be stressed out because every minute of the day is spent searching for ways to get food – for themselves and maybe for their loved ones as well. If the system covered at least the basics – a place to live and food in their bellies… they would have a life with some dignity and they would be a stronger people.