Why is the BC government forcing people to remain on welfare instead of working?

I do not know why the government wants people to remain on welfare, NOT working but it is obvious they do. This government claims it is interested in getting people off welfare and into the workforce – it is lying or incompetent. OR, I suppose, both incompetent and lying. They pay lip service to getting people off welfare and back onto their feet but their policies and actions actually prevent people from returning to the workforce from the welfare rolls.

Currently I am struggling to overcome the negative effects their “assistance” system has had on my job seeking. Those readers who have read the back-story will recall the problems I faced in getting clothing suitable to wear to interviews. I have since found out that there is a $200 limit on their “help”. Pants, suit jacket, dress shirt and tie suitable for making a good impression on the prospective employer for $200 (being rather large I have to go to Mr. Big and Tall for clothing, which raises the price). Even with careful spending the bill came to almost twice that amount. Without this attire I would make bad impressions on any interviewer with the result that I would not find work. Were it not for the generosity of other people I would not have been able to get the suitable clothing required. Remember that the system requires you to have no assets, then has you waiting for several weeks before you receive any money. This means you are past being broke into negative cash flow and any money is always spent before you even receive it. You are thus entirely dependent on the system for anything you need in your job search. When the system denies you financial aid in purchasing clothing suitable to wearing to interviews they are saying NO to you becoming employed (then turn around and accuse you of not looking for work).

Through the kindness of strangers (who knowing of the need for clothing suitable to an interview, wanted to help me find work) I had clothing to wear to make a good impression at interviews. With clothes appropriate to the interview process I did receive a job offer. But now I needed office wear. Fortunately the dress code was office casual so that I could get by with purchasing two pairs of khakis as my sport shirts would serve. I desperately needed those two pairs of pants in order to enter back into the workforce and off welfare. With no acceptable pants (all the pants I own are worn and tattered at this point) I would be in violation of the dress code, resulting in the loss of the job and a return to welfare. What of my request for the two pairs of pants so I could work? NO – I had already received all the “help” they would give, In denying me the clothing needed to keep the job I had struggled/worked so hard to find – the system was saying NO to me being employed.

The system was upset that I was homeless (claiming my homelessness would prove a barrier to employment – it did not) and had threatened to deny the $185. I did get the $185 and being homeless left the full amount for me to use ($325 does not cover housing in Abbotsford and you must use the $185, or a portion thereof, to make up the difference between your shelter allowance and your REAL shelter costs). So in spite of the hardships associated with being homeless it had the advantage of leaving me with the full $185. This was/is very important as timing results in my first pay cheque arriving on the last Friday of January. Surviving until then is complicated by having a major expense I did not have before – food. Not something you can do without. Before I was working I could go down to the Salvation Army for a hot lunch and handouts of fruit, vegetable and bread. My food bill was $0. No longer. I now need to purchase what had once been free. My budgeting suggests that I should expect little of the $185 to remain after purchasing food to eat. Which leaves me with a few outstanding needs. Transportation to work, maintaining cleanliness (washing both myself and my clothes) and someway for my employer to contact me. Bus pass = $40; Bathing pass = $40; Laundry = $20; Phone = $35; total needed = $135. So in order to meet the cash flow demanded by actions to remain employed I needed approximately $100 to cover the period before my wages began to cover these costs. What does the system say about covering these types of expenses in the gap between starting work and getting paid for work done? NO! The system denies any help covering cash outflows required to continue working. NO to being employed.

Based on my own personal experience I can only conclude that the current government wants to keep people from becoming employed and getting back on their feet.

My Goal Government Response
Clothing for interview, find employment NO
Meeting dress code; keeping job NO
Getting to work, cleanliness, keeping job NO

At every turn in my quest to work the government has seemingly tried to block me from working by denying the help required. NO, NO, NO to getting the help needed to find employment. I have only been able to overcome the governments’ obstacles through help from good Samaritans. I have no idea why the government seeks to keep people on welfare. My experience (and that of others I know) is that although they claim they want people working, they are denying people the opportunity to work by denying them the resources they need to attain and maintain employment – saying NO to people getting work and off welfare. It does not matter what the government claims – their actions speak louder than their words, screaming NO at those of us seeking to be gainfully employed.

I frankly have no idea why the government does NOT want welfare recipients becoming employed. Perhaps it is some attempt to hold down wages by maintaining a large pool of unemployed. Perhaps the government feels the need for something they can use to distract the public from their record. Or perhaps it is just a required tenet of their Ideology – those on welfare are bums out to take the system – and to protect their worldview they need to keep people on welfare and not getting employed. The why is not really as important (although I would like to know WHY?) as the effect of the government actions in repeatedly saying NO to helping people off welfare and into the workforce.

Most fortunate for me is that in this arduous life lesson I have found some good people, people who truly want to help, whose actions lend help to those of us in need of a hand to get back onto our feet and on with our lives. So I can say NO to the governments efforts to keep me on welfare, keep me from finding work and from keeping my job.

To the government and system I sayif you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. If the government/system truly wants to get people back into the workforce (as opposed to only claiming that as a goal) they need to get some competent people involved, get out of the way and stop saying NO to helping people find work.

a Strange look

I fell into a discussion about ‘bait’ cars the other evening. How to recognize a bait car, precautions to take just in case you judged wrong and the car you stole turned out to be a bait car and you needed to be able to escape the car.

It was a simple straightforward and interesting discussion I was having with a fellow homeless person. Now I was not, nor do I believe was my conversational partner, planning to run out and steal a car. It was just an interesting conversation on a wet night, taking place where a local church was providing food and clothing to the homeless – as they do every week on that evening. One of their newer members was sitting where he could listen and when I glanced his way he had a rather strange look on his face. I suppose it sounded like we were planning to go out and steal cars. His look suggested he could not quite believe what he was hearing, that the thought that people who needed money for food and/or shelter would consider stealing had never occurred to him. It did give me a chuckle at the time.

It also made me wonder what politicians or the public are thinking sometimes. OK – I concede that getting politicians to think is probably a forlorn hope, but I still have hopes the public can think on this subject if one can get in front of them information such as this blog. Just recently a rumour (true or not I cannot say) had the government planning to start to kick a large number of people off the welfare rolls. Which I suppose they spin to get public applause and in hopes that by pulling out this old tattered ploy they could get voters to forget all the idiocy the current government is and has embraced.

I have had some cold hungry days and it is still early winter. I know that get me cold, hungry and desperate enough – morals and honesty be damned. Even a warm cell and 3 meals a day beats cold starvation “free” on the streets. Could that be the provincial government plan? Starve the homeless and the poor enough to commit crimes, arrest them, lock them in jail and voila! The streets are free of homeless. Well until government policy causes more unfortunates to fall into the clutches of the system. Or those in jail are freed for lack of jail space or the end of their sentences. Then you have more homeless than you started with. But, the government does gain a bogeyman to spook the electorate with at the next election (and avoid running on what they actually did). It is an extremely expensive course of action and when you look at what it would accomplish – NOTHING – it is a huge waste of taxpayer dollars. But as recent news reminds us, this is a government that has no hesitation in wasting tax dollars gain political advantage or in pursuit of their ideology.

The Homeless Party

What this country needs is a new political party. OK more of a replacement for the old Progressive conservatives. A party supporting Canadian Values, fiscally responsible and not the current government. I do not know what it is about Canadian politics, that no matter how well a Party does in matters affecting the governance of Canada, once re-elected the Party fails in matters of self governance, it is this failing that gave us the Liberal sponsorship scandal and all of the Mulroney Conservative scandals.

A new Party, free from favours owed, baggage or ideological blinders. A Party in the tradition and Values of Canada. In the Canadian Way – a stay out of the bedrooms, centrist, protect minorities and fiscally responsible Party. Not some American clone such as the Conservatives advocating American values – if we wanted to live in the USA we would (they should) move there.

I AM CANADIAN!


Hmmmm?? A Homeless Party. Strikes me as an interesting idea. There are among the homeless those with education, experience and ability. Use to squeezing all the value out of every dollar. Knowing the importance of compassion and consideration for others. Having Arduous life experience, the best teacher of important, useful and tough real life lessons. With an unparalleled understanding and experience of the important of respecting and protecting the rights of all Canadians. Sounds like just the people and Party we desperately need to lead Canada into the future, providing a sound alternative to ALL the current political Parties.

VOTE for Leadership and Ability!

VOTE Homeless!!

VOTE Mr. H!! – I need the job.

Gasmask Required.

It started with radio ads, or at least it did for me since I currently seldom watch television. Not that it was unexpected, just not so many, over and over and over. Obviously I am speaking of the Conservative Party ads aimed at angering the Canadian public over the sponsorship Scandal. Although, based on the TV ad I saw last evening the $$$amount is increasing, now up to 300 million. What I want to know is, since the Conservative Party is screaming so hard about the Liberal waste of tax dollars, are they going to repay the 200 million wasted on the Inquiry? I doubt it. I have little doubt they will disavow responsibility for the Inquiry, even though they forced the government to hold the Inquiry – when the public knew that an inquiry would accomplish nothing (and were proved correct in this). The Conservatives are the reason that more hundreds of millions of our tax dollars were wasted. All so the Conservative party could cause embarrassment to the Liberals. I do not mind them trying for political advantage, I mind a great deal when they waste all those $$$ millions of our taxes dollars.

Before some hard core Conservative accuses me of being a Liberal – NO. The first vote I ever cast in my life was for Robert Standfield and I was a life-long Progressive Conservative, even serving as on of the foot soldiers during several election campaigns. Until the TRAITOR, he who should never be named (or elected), sold out the Progressive Conservative party in his lust for power. Now I find myself with no other reasonably acceptable course of action but to hold my nose and vote Liberal. Not because I fail to think we could use a change, but for the lack of an acceptable party to change to.

I will be voting Liberal because I feel the most important issue to Canada remaining Canada the need for a government that will act in a socially responsible and reasonable manner. I expect the Liberals to act in such a manner and to keep their promise not to use the “Not withstanding clause” of the constitution to override Supreme Court decisions because those decision conflict with their ideology – even if the Liberal’s promised attempt to add this to the Charter should fail.

Protecting the rights of groups who are not popular is the most important aspect of the Charter. In a society as diverse as that of Canada (geographically, politically and multi-culturally), that is continuing to become more diverse, it is of paramount importance. Not just to help us all deal with each other, but because tolerance is an integral part of being Canadian. On can only assume those who wish to force their vies on others (e.g. Religion, sexual behaviour) have become Americanized by all the USA media propaganda that flows across the border. I AM A CANADAIAN. When the Charter is functioning as it should, it is going to upset us. We are so diverse a people that there are going to be conflicts, the Charter protects the rights of the weak (smaller groups) to be treated equally and with respect. That is being Canadian.

The Conservatives stated policy is to force their views on groups they disapprove of on an ideological basis. Worse they will do this in the name of ALL citizens. Thus the Conservatives ideology is so UNCANADIAN that I am force to hold my nose and vote Liberal. It may stink, but not as badly as the Conservative Party’s attitude on the question of protecting citizens’ rights.

A Scary Prospect….

An acquaintance of mine is back on the streets, homeless once more. Now Kerry (I am taking his word that he does not mind me using his name as opposed to Mr. X) is bright, articulate and hard-working. Once he arrived in Abbotsford last spring he hustle jobs to get the cash together to meet the amount required to get off the street and into habitation. As I have observed, personally experienced and written about, getting the money needed to take that HUGE step from being homeless to having a home is daunting. Social assistance tends to be more a series of obstacles rather than of assistance and the shelter rate is so low and totally unrealistic that in its way it acts as a barrier as well. The city government has been a barrier to any organization wanting to help with the need for housing aimed to transition people off the street, into reduced rental housing, the workforce and on into the regular housing market. Thus it is that I find myself (as noted in the previous posting) starting work but facing another two months or so of homelessness in order to accumulate the stake needed to pay the full market rental costs in Abbotsford. Two tough months of struggling to get to work, managing to bath. to do laundry, be presentable and to somehow find enough food to eat.

It is fine for politicians and others, living in some world where they see only what they want to see, to talk so easily of “they just need to get off their lazy asses and find a job”. Reality is an entirely different matter. I have no idea of how many people this inability or refusal to understand a basic economic fact/truth has denied employment and housing to by failing to provide the badly needed aid to make the transition.

It was somewhat chilling to see Kerry back on the street while I am preparing for the scramble to (at some point) transition off the street. He was injured, could not work for several weeks (a broken ankle had him hobbling around with his foot encased) and having no savings (since it is hard enough to get enough $$$ together to get a place, you cannot manage a savings “cushion” as well) – BAM – out on the street. Social Assistance is not designed (but should be) to quickly step in and provide aid so you do not become homeless, bridging the gap until you can return to work. In fact the workers deny you the 185.00 (as well as the 325.00 which you would reasonable expect not to receive) claiming that homelessness prevents you from finding work. But the system will not do anything to prevent this homeless ness from occurring. Oh yes, it also ignores evidence it does not want to see – such as the fact that I managed to find employment while homeless (thanks in part to the current system) and dealing with, or at least trying to deal with, the idiocy of the current system. it just required a lot more determination and effort to overcome the millstone of the system’s “assistance”.

With all else that is on my plate in the struggle to get back on my feet, I really did not need to be reminded of the obstacles faced in that undertaking and how fragile ones grip on home, work and even a very basic, simple lifestyle can be.

Dignity

I took a seat beside him because he was reading a copy of the article on this blog from somethingcool.ca. I had printed off several copies and left them for other homeless to find and read so that I could get some feedback.

Once seated I found he had had to much to drink. He was a little on the scruffy side so most would have avoided him in the first place, throw in being drunk and the ‘avoiders’ would have been giving him a wide berth. At an earlier point I would have been one of those going out of their way in avoidance. I would then have missed out on the thoughts raised in listening and talking to him.

Aside: One of the somewhat surprising things I have learned from this arduous life lesson concerns listening. I have learned much of interest to me from a wide variety of individuals. A favorite group from a person who is mentally challenged; things I needed to help me deal with life on the street from my fellow homeless; an insight from a scruffy drunk. So – practice your listening skills, you could learn a lot of interest and use this way. Not necessarily from the homeless but from your family, friends and those around you.

He was quite upset with the statement that the system, the government and the public lump us all together and view us as one type. It developed that he was not disputing the claim that we are all viewed as one thing, rather he was upset with all those who lumped so many different individuals, stories and situations into one big pile and stick ONE label on all. He did not deny his alcohol problem, freely admitting to it. However, he stressed that he worked for the money he spent on alcohol. He did not collect welfare, did not rob or steal and while it may not be considered a traditional job he EARNED his own money – and paid taxes too (if only sales and excise taxes). He is one of those ‘lazy bums’ who are far from lazy, working hard for his money. It upset him greatly to be lumped together under one label. Worth noting is the fact that he had the courtesy to ask if he was disturbing me (I had the Daily News on my lap. And only continued the conversation when I had assured him he was not disturbing me.

As I reviewed this conversation in my mind and thought not just about the words themselves but what he was in fact ‘saying’ I realized that we were talking about dignity. I was about to use the word simple with reference to human dignity but I realized there is nothing simple about human dignity. Dignity is a part of human nature, something we all have/need and one of the first things taken from the homeless. The system, government and public view and treat the poor, those in need and the homeless as worthless excess baggage – a burden to society. Beat these people down with labels, attitudes, actions, the police and treat them as throw away people. Many look down their noses. I have heard people I know speak with contempt about the homeless (se Footnote 1 below). I know from the backgrounds of some of these folk that it was only through the best of luck, the workings of blind chance, that they have home, family and a comfortable life rather than being homeless and on the streets themselves. Perhaps it is some inner knowledge of just how close they came, how truly lucky they are, that makes them so vehement in the condemnation of the homeless and those in need. In the same vein of ex-smokers being so vehement about anti smoking laws or quitting smoking.

Worthless. Burden. Human garbage. Drunks. Druggies. Ignorant. Lazy. Uneducated. Bums. Freeloaders. Chipping away until their dignity is gone. Yet they turn around and ask “Have you no pride?” – no, the system, government and public have beaten down so many of the disadvantaged, the homeless. Until they reach the point where there is no sense even trying for them. Then beats upon them for having this outlook of despair.

There are any number of inspirational speakers and sayings stressing how important attitudes are in any endeavour. That self image and belief are needed for success. How we look at ourselves and the world affects strongly our motivation. The inner conversations we have, what thoughts our minds are fed, our dreams – all affect our actions. You can live your dreams OR live your fears and self doubts.

I wonder just what the effect of building up their self-esteem/image, of granting them human dignity, of treating them (others) as you would want to be treated yourself would be? That would require ideologues in government and the public to open their minds about the reality of the poor and the homeless, actually see what is and change their Behaviours. SNORT. Yea, right. Open those closed minds? Hmmmm. With more members of local church congregations aware of and wanting to help….. perhaps a miracle such as open minds can be hoped (prayed) for.