Thursday, 19 July 2012

Day 49 - If I were Prime Minister for a Day, I would...

Today's prompt was submitted by me, so I figured I should make a point of posting this one :)

The prompt, verbatim, was "If you were President or Prime Minister for a day, what law would you change?"

...and my first response is "only one??"  There's a lot I would want to change, but mostly I would want to re-evaluate the whole social assistance area.

For most of my childhood/teenage years, my family lived on a fixed income due to my father's illness.  My mom was his primary caregiver, and because of the nature of his disability/pension, if she (or any of us kids) worked outside of the home and made over x amount a month (I think it was in the neighbourhood of $200), over half of it would be garnished.  So basically she either didn't work at all or had to find a job that made enough money that we didn't need social assistance at all.  And Dad's medication cost A LOT of money.  In essence, we were screwed.

It seems that the way that social assistance is set up, once you need it and are on it, you can't get out.  When I was old enough to have a full-time job, I pretty much had to move out of my parent's house and find somewhere else to live so they didn't get penalized because I was working.

What really got our goat as well, was that we were scrutinized all the time, but knew of people on welfare who got away with (it seemed) anything.  (To clarify, we weren't on welfare, we were on disability.  But even with that there were problems.  Canada Pension Plan gives you a fixed amount, based on how long you worked (there might be other factors in place; I haven't done any current research).  ODSP (Provincial Disability) gives a top-up (kind-of) which takes into account how many kids you have, etc.  The only problem is that if CPP gives you extra money (like a winter clothing allowance for kids.  I'm pretty sure one can clothe a child for the winter on $200 (being frugal about it), but how do you clothe 5 children for the winter on $200????), ODSP says, "Oh, you're getting extra money from there, so we won't give you as much this month")

There's no way to save money to send your kids to college, try and put a down-payment on a home, get a decent (5 years old or newer) car to drive.

This issue is the main reason I got into Social Service Work.  I know that it needs to change, but I don't know how to start.  I guess the best I can do is keep researching issues, bringing them to others' attention, and go from there...

My apologies for this post turning into a bit of a rant.  This is definitely a topic that can gets me worked up, so that I have difficulty approaching it objectively.

Say that you're a leader for a day; what would you change??


  1. I LOVe your response! you are right one law...There is so many that need to be changed how can we pick just one! Mine is very passionate as well!
    The law I would change is to live in a world where there is NO abortion!

  2. You make very good points based on your family's experience. A powerful way to get laws changed is when people share their personal experiences with those in leadership positions who can act on their behalf. I hope you share yours.

  3. Thank you for sharing your experience. Hopefully it will be an eye-opener for others.

  4. The welfare system is something that is screwed up in Canada and the US. Much reform needs to be done. I have been in situations one too many times where I worked for a company who didn't offer health insurance, but I made too much for medical assistance but I wasn't making enough to afford to pay for a plan of my own. Often people who actually need the assistance can't get it and those who get in the system can't get out. It is a vicious cycle.

  5. I didn't realize I couldn't speak up for more than one law. Good thing I posted it all before I heard!

    And I am with you on this. Its nuts!

    Another pet peeve of mine is how the taxes on cigarettes keep increasing here in California. Now, I don't smoke. I think it is a gross habit, but when I worked with the severely mentally ill, it is among the one pleasures these people have in life. With their measly assistants checks, every extra cent will go to cigarettes and it is just not right.

    See? We all have rants in us!

    The four laws I would change.

  6. Yeah, mine was a bit of a rant, too. Also on the welfare needing reform. Thanks for sharing your story. I am on disability now, and I try to make some money, mostly to be able to have coffee with my friends or buy yarn.