Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Canadian Welfare Is Harder and Harder to Get: When the Social Safety Net Doesn't Work

Being poor is not easy, and trying to get help is harder still. Those are two of the conclusions to draw from a report of the National Welfare Council, released earlier this week. The data used are from 2009, but there's no hint that things have gotten any better.

In fact, over the last several years, the rules governing who gets social assistance and how to qualify for it have gotten tougher and tougher. Essentially, you have to have nothing--no savings, no car, no possessions that are valued at more than a couple of hundred dollars. Forget it if you've socked something away for retirement, or if you're living in a rural area on a scrap of land you might have inherited, or if you've got burial insurance, or households goods like a TV and kitchen equipment that are worth more than $150 or $200 (the cut off in most provinces, according to the report.

This means that if you've run out of your EI benefits, you've got to sell nearly everything before you can qualify for welfare. The result is a "perfect poverty trap without an escape hatch," NWC chair John Rook said in presenting the report earlier this week.

Canada does better when it comes to employment insurance than does the US, without a doubt. But the experiences of the last two weeks--when we saw our lives turned upsidedown by a fire--bring a sharp appreciation of how tough it is keep afloat in troubled times.

1 comment:

Martin Langeland said...

My sister-in-law, who would like to be but is not rich, once informed me that we can't afford the poor.
Now that time has demonstrated that the opposite is true, I live in hope that we might act upon the knowledge.
Appalled by the damage from the fire.
But today I made a batch of Soderstrom Sausages a la Dum Luks. Mean to try them in just a bit -- just to be sure the batch is not poisoned!
Gut Jul to all!