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Thoughts re: Social Services

This is a slight rant. Skip the cut if you want non-ranty items. :)

I don't personally live in Toronto, but I do live in the surrounding area. There is a big hoopla right now in Toronto because their newly elected mayor, Rob Ford, is determined to "cut the gravy" within the city's budget. (Please google "Rob Ford" and "gravy cuts" if you want some news sources)

Anyways. So that's been the platform that he's been running on - he doesn't believe in providing grants to agencies because it's a waste of money. Social services are not a major need. An auditing firm has been hired to see what should be considered on the chopping block. I've been kind of paying attention to this news because I expect it to translate to other areas in Ontario - I'm pretty sure the current Premier will not get re-elected (many good reasons for that) and I anticipate that people might veer toward the Conservative candidate.

When I was in high school, a lot of the social programs were cut. We weren't allowed to really have any "clubs" for a year because the Conservative Premier at the time cut a lot of school funding. No time was provided to teachers to help out with extra-curricular stuff, so nothing happened. Clubs weren't necessarily banned.. but definitely not allowed. It was a big thing to hold "underground" stuff because some teachers felt bad, but overall.. it was a mess. A lot of people didn't get chances to do things because the opportunities simply were not provided.

One of the things on the chopping block is the subsidized daycare program. Currently the city has 2000 spots that are subsidized by the city alone, with more than that number on the waiting list. The comments from people regarding this is quite eye-opening. Many of them indiciate that if people can't afford kids then they simply shouldn't have them, that their tax dollars shouldn't be used to help other people's kids, or better yet, just get a job. This is stuff that just makes me really angry, because it's so extremely short-sighted.

First - you're right. If you can't afford the cost of kids, maybe you shouldn't have had any. Unfortunately, sometimes things happen that lead to kids.. and perhaps the parents didn't want to do anything to terminate that. In any case, the child is there and alive. Maybe they shouldn't have had the kid. Maybe they should have thought more. But guess what, the kid's there. Commenting that people shouldn't have done something isn't going to solve the problem, unless you plan to terminate all those needy kids. Since that's not happening, shouldn't we be trying to figure out a solution instead of telling people - "crai moar"?

Also, because life is often not static and unchanging, things happen that will cause people to connect with social services when they haven't before. Sure, you have people who have been with social services their whole life and see no reason to change. You also have others that never anticipated having to access those services, but through some twist of fate ended up that way. Maybe the parents seperated. Maybe someone died. Maybe someone got sick. Maybe someone lost their job. Who knows. The list goes on and on and on. Even if you were financially stable when you had children, you could get laid off tomorrow and everything would be shot to hell. Life doesn't always work in a context of - well, you should have planned better. Why yes, maybe when I have children I will first save up $17 million or however much it costs to raise a child now. I wonder how long that would take me.

As great as it would be to just scream "get a job!" at people, and they will suddenly have a job, sometimes it's not that easy. Without access to some form of childcare, and assuming your child is not attending school on a full-time basis, how are you supposed to obtain this miraculous job to get out of the hole you're in? Not everyone has family support they can access. Some do (which is great) and some don't. Even if you do, most people don't want to wear out their welcome before people get fed up and tell you to screw off. Assuming you have no support, how are you supposed to get the money to temporarily put the child in daycare/babysitting while you look for work? Welfare? Please. The money for welfare barely covers rent in most areas, and the child tax money from the government pays for food. Where in there are you supposed to pull some money out for babysitting? So you're looking for a job to pay for daycare.. which you can't pay for because you don't have a job. Circular reasoning, isn't it?

I do think that with a lot of people that are struggling, you need to help them find a way to be self-sufficient instead of just throwing stuff at them. Some will never be able to manage that responsibility, but most can. Unfortunately, getting people back on their feet takes more than snapping your fingers or wiggling your nose. It actually takes work. And it often requires many areas of support to get it working along and moving. It's easy to look at welfare and consider them all lazy bums who don't want to try. Based on the families that I've worked with? They really do want to get out of the rut they're stuck in. But often there's more to that than just sucking it up and moving on. Some of them have been abused, have abused others, or may even have an addiction. Or maybe they were just dealt a really bad hand of cards this round. As great as it would be to tell someone "just snap out of it", many require more than that. They need some supports, then they can transition back into the world. Child care is a key component of that piece, especially for parents who just need to have one less thing to worry about so they can move on.

What I have a problem with is people only look at the cost of it, but don't see the ripple effect this can cause. It could mean that instead of having some families work and trying to manage, you may have them being at home accessing welfare instead. So is that cost really being managed? Or is it just deterred? I get the anger that comes with feeling your tax dollars are being taken advantage of (I pay taxes too) but a cut like this would only be a short-term, once only solution. Shouldn't we really be looking at how to change the system? Ie: why can't job employment centres offer babysitting to parents so they can actually get a job?

It's great to look at people and tell them what they SHOULD have done. But that's not fixing anything. Why can't we look at what we have and work with it, instead of automatically getting our backs up and telling them to go off and screw themselves? I like to have some hope that if one day I need to access services for whatever reason, that the person on the other end will be understanding, instead of giving me the evil eye and tell me I'm wasting government money.

In other non-rantish related news.. not much. Chugging along at work. I think I should take some summer vacation - I have a couple days booked off but that's it. Work's really starting to become really draining lately, and I'm just tired most of the time. I think it might have to do with the fact that I've been working on 23 cases in the past 2 weeks (normal # is 17).

It's incredily hot here though (and often humid). I don't think we've had rain in 2 weeks.. and it's supposed to continue for another week or so, at least. I feel bad for my grass, it's turning really yellow. :(