How would my government handle welfare if we began with the belief that all people – yes, ~gasp~ even those who need financial help – were valued and treated with respect?
Not regarded as lazy liars & cheats, but as people with potential, with the right to respect & dignity, a voice….
For starters, we could stop spending so much time, energy & resources on policing welfare recipients, and start moving towards helping them reach their potential. If I ran the system, I would start running groups for all new recipients (and any existing ones who were so inclined). There would be groups for those who needed to develop social skills, or job-search skills, or vocational skills, or coping skills, or …well, you get the idea.
In the beginning I’d have the welfare workers and whatever other social worker types we needed run them… but part of the process of these groups would be to develop accountability among group members, and most importantly, to identify group members with skills, who with some training and support could become group leaders, support people, etc …and yes, because I am starting from a place of respect, I would pay them. Not like as in workfare – like as in hey, you’re contributing, here is your pay cheque.
I would much rather pay people to do something they are good at that benefits society than to pay them to sit on their butts at home because we aren’t giving them enough money to really live on, to do laundry or have their hair cut, to buy clothes, to take the bus, to…. whatever.
I would identify recipients with child care skills and provide them with training and support and supervision to develop those and again, I would pay them. A living wage. Not welfare.
I would identify recipients that could do stuff we need done …. personal support workers come to mind …we need a lot of those in Ontario already, and that’s a field that is only going to grow. Even if we had to pay them to go out in pairs, we’d be ahead – because we would be encouraging people to develop job skills, providing services to those in need of personal support work, and treating people with respect.
The idea of workfare – of forcing people to work for welfare – does not sit well with me. It’s right up there with what we used to do with people with developmental challenges…do we still? God, I hope not… but I’ve been out of that field a long time. In any case…. back pre-Harris, even…I used to work with developmentally challenged adults…and it made me SICK that we would send them to work 8 hour days in sheltered workshops and pay them .17c or .35c/hour. But hey, then we would give them ODSP too, so it was okay. Why would we not pay them minimum wage for the work that they actually did, and then, only if necessary, top that up with ODSP?
If you expect me or my kids or my students or… whoever… to sit in a workshop and put screws in baggies or what the hell ever for 8 hours a day, you’d pay minimum wage. Who decided that Gerard’s work was worth any less? BS! It was BS. It’s BS to think that prisoners should work for those sorts of non-wages also. Work is work is work.
Minimum wage is minimum wage and it should be paid for whatever work is done by whoever.
It’s ridiculous, and disrespectful, to do otherwise.
More on my welfare reforms next time… I am SO not done 🙂