Parents and grandparents tell Dix: “We’re not begging, just asking for justice”
Raise welfare rates to a liveable level, build social housing that people on welfare and basic old age pension can afford, and stop clawing back 100% of earnings and child support payments. That’s what nine parents and one grandparent on income assistance told NDP Leader Adrian Dix and MLA Jenny Kwan at Strathcona Community Centre on June 5th.
In short and eloquent speeches the nine women and one man told Dix and Kwan what it is like living on welfare for them and their children:
“There is no such thing as sitting around. We forage every day,” said Stacey Bonenfant.
“Before we had social housing I had to take $150 out of my food money for rent,” explained Colleen Boudreau. “If government built enough social housing people would have more for what they need.”
“Stress [from not having enough money to feed her child] makes my disability worse,” said another mother who gets disability assistance. She added, “I am constantly judged and poor-bashed by the Ministry.”
“Sometimes children say they don’t want snacks just because they don’t want their parents to go without,” said another parent on disability. “Because I don’t have enough money I could never take them to Science World, Playland, or the Aquarium. It’s even hard to go on picnics. It makes us feel like we are less than others even though we’re trying our best.”
After all the speeches and requests for the NDP to commit to raising welfare and building social housing, Dix said, “There will be a plan and you will see it before the election.”
“Housing is a key part of it,” he said.
All of the points raised by the parents are “under consideration by us,” Dix added.
A single parent with one child who is expected to look for work gets $945.58 per month on income assistance. A single parent on disability with one child gets $1242.08.
The parent and grandparent group is also trying to arrange a meeting with Liberal Minister Stephanie Cadieux.