Thursday, August 24, 2006

That's Terrible

If you dig a little deeper into the National Council of Welfare's 2005 report (rather than just relying on this article) you will find that a single person on welfare in Ontario receives $7000 a year to live on. That's after they get their GST credit and so forth.

Sure, it might be technically possible to keep hand and mouth together on that amount of money. Your average room for rent will cost ~$350-$450, so let's be optimistic and assume $350. That means that you have $2800 a year, or $230 a month, on which to feed and clothe yourself, keep yourself from going insane, and finance a job hunting expedition. If you never eat out, and only buy the cheapest foods, and don't eat any fresh fruit, you might be able to feed yourself for $35/wk. That leaves you $90 a month in which to do laundry, buy whatever miscellaneous household items you might need (dish detergent, light bulbs, tooth paste, deodorant, shampoo), and support your job hunt. What do you need for a job hunt? In my opinion, the opportunity to write your resume (free at your public library, if you know what to do, and presumably something you can get government assistance with), some money to pay for photocopies, a haircut often enough to keep you looking respectable, a professional set of clothes (no, not a suit, just something that is better than jeans and a T-shirt), transportation (a bus pass is $71.25, and don't talk to me about bus tickets - $10 gets you 5 trips on a bus), and a reliable phone number at which you can be reached. I don't see how you can pay for those essentials... never mind the fact that you can't afford any money with which to relax. Even one beer or rented movie is out of the question, and you'd better just damned hope that your room comes with cable included, or you'll get four channels coming in completely fuzzy (CBC, CTV, Global and City), if you are lucky enough to have hung onto your TV.

How do we expect people to get jobs and get off welfare when they don't have the money to supply themselves with even basic job-hunting resources? Especially when you consider that it isn't exactly the cream of the crop that end up on welfare in the first place... How likely would you be to forego even a single beer a month when faced with that kind of lifestyle?

This is not the way to get people off welfare and back into regular employment.

2 Comments:

Blogger Douglas Cootey said...

My personal experience with welfare is that it is a demeaning lifestyle. They don't give you enough money to do more than survive. If you try to increase your earnings by getting a job, no matter how small, you will likely find yourself in a new income bracket and have your benefits drastically cut - often disproportionately in relation to the small increase in income. This causes two things to happen. Either people don't report their income and stick to under the table type jobs with little income, little prospects, and no future, or they don't try getting work at all. If your failed attempt to keep a menial labor job does nothing more than pay a bill or two before disqualifying you from food and financial assistance the next month, then you may be reluctant to hurt your family that way.

I don't really know who to blame really. The eager politicians looking for any excuse to kick people off the program, or the low life hoods who try to fraud the system and make it hard for everybody else with legitimate needs. I'll opt for both. All I know is that many people are ashamed to be on welfare. Most people are proud.

I wish there was a system set up to help uplift the welfare recipients with offers to write their resumes, place them in jobs (not push them into menial labor as is usually the case), and let them know about various programs that can help increase their education and make them more employable. I agree that fraud is a problem, so there should be safeguards set up to prevent abuses. For instance, with the Dept. of Rehabilitation I once qualified for assistance. They paid for tuition and book supplies. I never held any money. It was all paid to the school. Systems like that are hard to abuse. That's why I fully supported the move away from food stamps to debit cards.

I just wish that Congress OK'd more money to benefit the downtrodden. The amount of money they spend on one failed missile could set my family up like royalty, or hundreds of families instead set up with educational programs and life improving benefits. The whole system needs to stop doling out money and hating the recipients. It needs to meter out funds more wisely.

Ahem. Got a bit passionate there. Sorry. Nice post.

~Douglas
-=-
The Splintered Mind - Overcoming Neurological Disabilities With Lots Of Humor And Attitude

7:22 PM  
Blogger Aletha said...

No need to apologize for passion on this topic - I fully agree. I think that in Ontario we have some kind of stepped reduction in social assistance payments once people get jobs, so that having a job does leave them at least somewhat better off.
But first you have to find a job; and that can't be easy to do when you are living hand-to-mouth on an inadequate stipend.

4:24 PM  

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