Lets stick it to those folks on welfare one more time – UPDATED

THIS STORY IS NOT TRUE – NO NEWS SITE OR THE GOVERNMENT OF NEW BRUNSWICKS WEBSITE HAVE ANY REFERENCE TO DRUG TESTING WELFARE RECIPIENTS 

A friend and really decent man posted on Facebook something that floored me.

Here’s what he reacted to which was posted on Facebook”“New Brunswick is the first province that will require drug testing when applying for welfare (effective July 1st)! Some people are crying this is unconstitutional. How is this unconstitutional?? “

Bill responded this way

“First of all, the idea that people should have to pass a drug test to qualify for welfare is ridiculous. Is the system abused? At times. Show me one system in our society that’s not. I suspect more six figure business people are guilty of tax evasion or fraud. And also, maybe this didn’t originate in this province but I don’t know anyone who works and has to pass a drug test. Where are they getting this every working person shit? While we’re at it why don’t we stop giving healthcare to people who smoke? And there are people who have posted this on my own friends list who work and wouldn’t pass a drug test to save their lives. Not only that, there’s people on my friends list who are guilty of all sorts of shit and yet sit on their pedestal and post bullshit like this.

What really pisses me off is that there are very few people who post things such as this that actually know what they’re talking about.  They see a chance to save a buck and they jump on it without any serious consideration.  Rather than cut off the life line for people who struggle with addictions why don’t we focus on fixing the problem?  What do you think will happen when they no longer have the money to eat or live?  Crime goes up and every precious penny you saved (not really because drug testing is not cheap) is going to house them in jail or put more police in place to deal with the crime.  In all honestly, this idiotic plan would likely cost tax payers more money in the long run anyway.

I’m not against checks and balances but let’s not just target those who are desperate.  Let’s start at the top of the food chain and work our way down.”

My opinion is this – it’s easy to pontificate from the middle class or wealthy safety of our collective perch, but I work with people at the bottom of the food chain every day and I have to say that almost all of them would do anything to get of welfare. Here in Ontario it’s hard enough – see my post on this –  but now there is a rumor the government of New Brunswick has added drug testing for those on welfare as of July 1st. Happy Canada Day!

These were some of the comments on Bills Post:

  • Sometimes you just have to hit rock bottom. As long as those that are on welfare using their money for drugs, all we are doing is enabling them. There are lots of people out there that have to pass drug tests for their jobs. Anyone who w…See More
    15 minutes ago ·
  •  I’m in law enforcement and I’m not tested. Are teachers tested before they teach children? How about daycare providers? Should we drug test everyone who wants a student loan from our government? I don’t want a few bucks in student loan money to go to someones drug habit.
    11 minutes ago ·
  • All I read was people who smoke shouldn’t get health care, which I agree with
    10 minutes ago ·
  • This is in reference to welfare and welfare only. Im yet to see legit reasons why anyone is on welfare for more than a few months its intended to help ppl get back on their feet, its not meant to be lived on for their lively hoods.
    9 minutes ago ·
  • Dont say its lack of jobs, I have nothing more than high school. I was fired from a job, and within 2 weeks i had a job, and most of that time I was not even trying, I could have probably started sooner.
  •  out here, most people are drug tested for jobs…why not test those who want a free handout. If you need welfare, you shouldn’t be buying drugs with it. If you’re an addict, tough.
    6 minutes ago ·
  • The point is it shouldn’t be in reference to welfare only. It’s saying that the way welfare is used is abused. I’m saying that we should not just be targeting those on welfare. There’s lots of places where we waste money in our society. It’s wrong to target one specific group of people.
    6 minutes ago ·
  •  drug test everyone!
  • Its hard to get ‘back on your feet’ when the government requires you to use up all of your entire savings and sell all of your assests before they will even give you money. Imagine, getting the BARE minimum where you can’t even afford half of what other people see as necessities. People who do get a job on top of their welfare, get that money taken away. How does this help someone get out of the hole?
  • I agree, drug test everyone. Great idea but once you do that you’ve no longer saved a dime. So what was the point?
  • I will piss in a cup…… Done. who wants to test it.

    4 minutes ago ·
  • those deserving get, those who don’t don’t…

    4 minutes ago ·
  • Plain and simple, everyone should be free to do what they please. There are always people who will abuse something, there is no way to have complete control (ask parents, they try to do that daily with their teens). But just because a few people abuse something – doesn’t mean that everyone should be affected.

    4 minutes ago ·
  •  if people are using the system properly…then a drug test shouldn’t bother them. Only people abusing the system are pissed, cuz the free drugs are over…

    3 minutes ago ·
  •  well anyone who legitimacy uses welfare should have no problem with being tested.

    3 minutes ago ·
  •  If I was poor and living the way people have to when receiving social assistance…I’d probably want to be DRUNK off my ass every day.

    3 minutes ago ·
  • And the idea of someone who is an addict doesn’t deserve help is exactly the kind of ignorant thinking that ought to scare the shit out of most Canadians.

    3 minutes ago.
  •  help the addict, don’t give them money to buy drugs3 minutes ago ·
  •  Every resolution to the problems, its the ones who abuse who make a stink about it. They tried food stamps ppl just sold them. Should we make the recipients provide and itemized statement of where they spent their money?

    2 minutes ago ·
  • it’s a stupid ignorant and back ass idea. I know 100’s of people who for what ever reason are on welfare. It’s easy to say “get a job” or I did this or I did that but the fact is once your on welfare, something I am fortunate enough to have never experenced, its incredilby hard to get off. they don’t allow you to have more than $1000 IN assets, you have to show your bank records, your hydro bill, and liquidate rrsps. Learn something about this before you jump in and try treating people like they’re people and not an annoyance that you can pontificate on.
    I can’t begin to tell you how sickening it is to see people piling on because they think that “those welfare types need to be put in their place.” or ” Well if they had nothing to fear what’s the problem?” THE PROBLEM IS IS THAT IT’S DEGRADING AND INHUMANE TO TREAT PEOPLE LIKE THEY’RE A PROBLEM!
    Here’s a story I heard – man gets caught stealing something. He’s in a wheelchair and he’s there cause he has flesh-eating disease from injection drug use and he’s gotta steal some stuff because:
    1. The pain medication he’s on can’t be taken with the methadone which he was using to fight his addiction.
    2. His Doctor is away on vacation and forgot to refill his prescription.
    3. He needs something to kill the pain he’s in both mentally and physically.
    4. It’s the weekend and he’s got no access to his worker.
    So he gets arrested for theft and the result is that he’s humiliated, he’s in pain. and it cost us a fortune in police, jail,  and medical attention rather than funding the care that he needs without pre conditions. We need to be making sure that he has everything he needs to get his life back to where he wants it to be. You think he wants to be an addict? You think people want to be on welfare and have to justify everything you spend?
    What happened to the idea that we are our brothers and sisters keepers because we want them to be our keepers and care givers when we need it.
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Ontario Works–an invasion of dignity

Monthly income for a single person on Ontario Works: $585

I get to see first hand how the people in our fair City of London Ontario deal with poverty and Ontario Works. Now here is my main issue with public perception, Ontario Works, and dignity. If If you are poor and on OW the current system does not allow you to have any dignity. This is because the current system is set up on the following principles:

1. In order to receive Ontario Works you must have spent every dime and liquidated every asset you have.

2. You must justify everything you do with any money you have all of the time.

3. You cannot have any savings over 2000.00

4. You must get off Ontario Works ASAP

Point 1  You must liquidate your RRSPs, your savings, sell assets, before you can qualify for OW. This makes no sense at all because if you liquidate your assets and live of them you put yourself closer to the bottom of the hole that is poverty. Assets mean stability and stability is something that doesn’t happen for many people n poverty.

On to point 2You must justify everything you do with any money you have all of the time”. This means that no matter how small or large an amount you come into that is not derived from Ontario Works it is highly likely that this will be deducted and in some cases deducted months after the fact. Now you may be thinking “ well those people should have to justify this. They’re getting a free ride after all”.

Why do we think of it as a free ride? Why is there an attitude of “Why should they get this and I don’t?” like it’s a 2 year old crying because they didn’t get the same thing the other 2 year old got at Christmas. Think about this, every month you must go down to an Ontario Works office and justify how you spend your money. All of your money. You have to provide receipts for your hydro, your clothing, your transit or gas, provide your banking balances,anything at all that is considered income. How many of you if I asked would open up your banking accounts to my scrutiny? You would be outraged. But if your on OW it’s a regular occurrence.This was recently in the Globe and Mail “There are hundreds of rules. She has been sent away because she was missing one document. She has had to justify a no-contact order against her son’s father and had a caseworker scrutinize every detail of her bank account. Every interrogation “makes you feel very low to the ground,” she says. And the worst, she says, is that you learn quickly “that you can’t count on anything.”

Point 3. You cannot have any savings over 2000.00. Now this may not look like a big deal but fi your trying to get off OW 2 grand does not go along way. Just take into account moving expenses, first and last months rent, clothing, and and average of rent of $560.00 for a bachelor apartment then 2 grand isn’t so much. There was an a woman on OW who received a small inheritance of 5000.00 . Now normally that would be great news but because she was on OW she had to spend all that within the month, provide the receipts on what she spent it on, or lose her benefits. She wanted to put that into an RESP for her children but the rules of OW would not allow it. This makes no sense at all but is not untypical.

Point 4You must get off Ontario Works ASAP” . So this means that you are expected to get off OW as soon as possible. A good thing right? Yes it is a good thing but remember the previous point of not having more than 2 grand in assets. This makes it difficult to get off. Also if you do something like get a student loan, highly unlikely because your credit is likely in the toilet, it would be deducted from your OW. So your essentially stuck.

Some Ideas:

In Manitoba the federal and provincial governments came together in the 70’s to do a minimum income experiment. The trail was stopped in 1978 for political reasons but recently a  professor in Manitoba has a look at the program and again and found some interesting conclusions.From the CBC: “"We found that, overall, hospitalizations in Dauphin declined relative to the control group," said Evelyn Forget, professor of community health science at the University of Manitoba. "We also looked at accidents and injuries, and they also declined. You can argue that accident and injury hospitalizations are strongly related to poverty." and further “"Hospitalizations for mental health issues were down significantly," she said, adding that teenagers stayed in school longer as a result of the initiative.”

We should do this nation wide and eliminate the inefficient and dehumanizing system we currently have. We should offer a no strings attached, that means you don’t have to divulge or justify everything in your bank account our house, minimum income guarantee for everyone in Canada and it should be enough that families and individuals do not have to got to the food bank and other charities every month. This will have a direct economic benefit to local economies, provide stability for our most fragile and at risk community members and raise more people out of poverty. From the Globe and Mail:”In general, people spend the money on food and their children, and invest a portion of what remains toward improving their incomes. In a region in Namibia with an unconditional basic income grant, child malnutrition dropped from 42 per cent to 10, and school dropouts dropped to almost zero

I know some Ontario Works workers and they are good  people on the whole. They are over worked and the case load has gone up in London by a huge amount in the last couple of years. : From Ontario Works 2010 Participant Profile for London:

• 2010 caseload expected to be
11% bigger than the 2009
caseload
• Almost half are single individuals
and 36% are families with children
• Average time on assistance is
almost two years with half being
on assistance 15 months or
longer
• The average age of the applicant
is 35 years old, with half of
applicants being 33 years or older
• 54% report having obtained
grade 12 or higher
• 86% rent from the private
market
• Three quarters are
Canadian-born
• Most live in postal code area
N5V, N5W, N5Y and N5Z
which correspond roughly to
Carling, Glen Cairn, East
London, and Argyle planning
districts

Over the past four years, the caseload has grown by 47%

What I know from working with some of the most disadvantaged in our city is that they are asked to justify what they spend their money on day in and day our. I think we need to be led by our better angels and decide that if people need the help then we as a society are obliged to provide that help. We need to do this not only for their benefit but for the benefit of the entire community so we don’t have something as shameful as 1 in 4 children in London living in poverty and we no longer have to treat the poor like they are a burden but treat them with the same respect we expected to be treated ourselves.