A Question of Transition

Posted on: October 31st, 2011   No Comments

On October 29th local ADFW MPP Ted McMeekin asked the twitterverse:

In tough times reg charities struggle for donations and some for survival. #hamont#adfw ?? Can gov find a responsible way to further assist”

I responded with the following:

“Evidence based rates and easier access a start. Charities can then focus on transitional support instead of emergency”

To which he replied:

“Fair enough #hamont#adfw Important Question: when we talk ‘transition’ we need to be clear, transition FROM WHAT to WHAT???”

Given Twitter’s 140 character limitation I thought I’d expand upon my reply here.

“From hopelessness & despair to opportunity and inclusion. Job seekers don’t do well hungry, unable to afford laundry & stressed”

In my mind, it should not be a goal to simply survive.  That falls under basic needs.  It is my belief that a government safety net should keep people safe from poverty related disease, food insecurity and threat of homelessness.

As anyone who has ever reached for a 3pm coffee and sweet on a hectic day knows that without the energy that comes from regular food (i.e. sugar levels) we cannot think clearly.  Compound that with high levels of stress and you have poverty related disease in the making.

Transition supports are dependent on circumstances and need to be flexible enough to service a wide range of situations.  It is not enough to say from what to what because that question, in and of itself, underscores a major problem in the current system.  There is no one answer.  Poverty is complex.

An ODSP recipient, who due to illness cannot work a full work week needs adequate care both medically and financially to be at their best.  Once that occurs some may be able to return or train for full time work.  Others may never be able to work full time but could do part-time or independent contract, self-employment or volunteer.  Both require supports from employment services, training and possibly even advocacy with potential employers.  They need programs and recreation to help them feel included.

What it shows is that the how is always unique.

A person who runs out of EI shouldn’t be forced to divest themselves of RRSPs for a 5 month job gap. The ideal here is to make sure they have security, as well as, the tools to find employment.  Directives that force people to lose all they have ever worked for perpetuates a marginal existence. Losing telephone, internet, printer & ink, the means for regular transportation and the ability to afford regular interaction with their networks, both professionally and socially, is the reality many face.  Most of the jobs out there never make it to a newspaper; losing the means to network greatly diminishes job prospects.

To espouse family values and not allow for decent circumstances for single moms is contradictory.  Single moms come in many forms: newcomers, victims of domestic violence, ‘average’ divorcees who once relied on a 2 income household to teenage moms.

Again their needs are also diverse but the goal remains the same, opportunity and inclusion.

The provision of immigrant services, employment and health care are effectively diminished when someone is too spacey from lack of food to understand what is being told or remember it.  Or concerned they may not be able to have shelter next month.  Even adults need a healthy diet to make sure their retraining/education is successful.

It is no surprise these individuals feel frustrated when governments fail to understand that the process of using assistance is demoralizing in and of itself.  They need help putting their best foot forward and that starts with how easy it is to access the system.  Once on it, it shouldn’t be such a negative impact that they cannot function anymore as average human beings.

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