Good luck trying to rent an apartment in Kingston being on social assistance or welfare. There’s no way you can get anything decent. I had to beg to get this place. And I still owe a friend of mine a thousand dollars because you can’t get the money for first and last month’s rent. And landlords expect that, whether, whether it’s legal or not, you can’t secure a place unless you do that. So it’s almost impossible. And I mean, landlords have the right to refuse based on anything. They don’t have to say, oh, it’s because you’re on social assistance but they do, all the time, all the time. They want a certain kind of tenant and you just don’t fit that.
If people just imagine how, you know, being in a line up at a grocery store, and not having enough money to pay for things and having to put stuff back. Or just having to walk out.
It’s very difficult to plan for the future, to save for the future because there’s nothing there to do that with. You just, and decisions that may seem, stupid or irresponsible, to other people, are, at that moment, because it’s something that you have to do to get to the next day. People don’t understand that it’s a day-to-day thing. You get through one day, it’s a big deal. It’s a huge deal. And, half the time too, if you can make it to the end of the month with a couple of dollars in your pocket, that ‘s a good month. That’s a really good month.
People think that you’re somehow parasites or you’re leaching off of other people in society. And that’s bullshit. That’s, honestly, some of my friends, who are either on Ontario works or disability are some of the hardest working people that I’ve ever met. And they’d do anything to improve the lives of their kids, their situation.
It’s possible to live on welfare or social assistance or disability. You can do it, but you can’t do it very well. You absolutely cannot, cannot do it and have a good life. You can’t do it and give your children clothes, and proper food for sure. Those things, you cannot. Even if you went to second hand shops, the Salvation Army, the food bank, you still wouldn’t be able to do it. And it would be way too exhausting. There’s no way that you can do it. The rent only eats up three quarters of your cheque.
There was a time when I would end up in the hospital, and I wouldn’t have a wage coming in for a whole month and then I’d be doubly short and so, there are probably times when I should have been hospitalized but I can’t go, I can’t do it because I can’t afford to, I can’t afford it.
The people at the hospital suggested that I go on social assistance temporarily and I thought that might be a good idea, it would give me a bit of a break and allow me to get my feet on the ground again. But what ended up being temporary is now been 15, 16 years and the past couple of years I have just been trying to get off social assistance, which is very difficult. I think that the worst thing about it is the isolation and probably the loneliness. It’s very lonely ’cause you don’t really have people to talk to. You’re either busy with your kids or at work. And the stigma too… and asking for help when you’re on social assistance, people kind of look at you like you did something wrong to get yourself in this situation.
The assumption is that you give money to people on social assistance, they’re just going to spend it on alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, firearms, god knows what. I don’t know where that came from, but that’s totally a lie, that’s not true at all. It would just allow people to be an equal part of society. Really, to be able to hold your head up, walk into any store, walk in and get a pair of glasses and not have somebody refuse you because you’re on social assistance or I don’t know, buy a car, be able to send your kid to a camp. … It would help with overall health too, mental health, physical health.
…it does not help any either a pre-existing condition or, your ah, state of mind at all having to worry about how you’re going to get food or pay the rent.
I didn’t think about the future up until a couple of years ago. And when I think about myself now, in the future, I think I just want to get my daughter to adulthood. I just want to be able to keep myself together, keep a roof over her head and make sure that she gets a good education, just those things. I just want to make sure I get her to 18 or 19 or 20. If I can do that, then it was worth it. And whatever I have to do, that’s fine. And if it can, if I can be happy along the way too, that, that would be a bonus. But if that doesn’t happen, then that’s okay.