Dear Mr. Trudeau,
My name is Sylvia AJ White and I live in Halifax, Nova Scotia. A small province compared to the others; one whose economy is heading west because of the lack of jobs and more so lack of support.
I write for those of us who need the help the most, including myself. I may not be able to articulate myself very well but I think I can make an effort to make my point clear. I write for single parents (most who are mothers) who are fighting a battle without any meaningful help. Those of us who work as much as we can, and those of us who rely on assistance from a broken and severely outdated system. It is suppose to help but sadly doesn’t because those who run it just do not care enough to make a serious effort to fix it. This province doesn’t need MLS’s to run it sir; it requires a mother.
Someone who would understand the struggles we all endure or face every single day. Here are the breakdowns of what I mean. PLEASE take into consideration that all of this is based on info I’ve gathered over the years and it’s out of Halifax NS, our capital city.
A single parent (I’m using a mother because I am in this VERY situation myself!) ; with two children; on assistance receives $880 a month. The rents here unless you’re in housing average about $650 to $1200 a month depending if you live in the “slums/hood” or not. If you want a nice place it will cost you. Community services only allows $675 MAX for rent. This MUST include heat, electricity & hot water. A single parent of two would be LUCKY to find a one bedroom for this much let along a three bedroom should she had a male and female child. If she did, this leaves her with a grand total of $205 a MONTH to survive off of. (Not including her child tax credit, IF she gets one.) $205 is suppose to buy medication, clothing for her children and herself all year round. Kids grow so clothing isn’t cheap EVEN at a second hand store!
NOTE: I’m going to assume you know the issue with Value village, and other second hand stores in NS jacking up prices in poor neighbourhoods; which I might add is deplorable, if not you may want to check in on this. I think you’d be quite surprised at the profiteering that goes on within these businesses at the expense of those who can’t afford it.
To continue; this amount of $205 is deplorable. IF she works, even part time she’s only allowed to keep $150 as a starting rate and then 70% of any “extra” after that $150; well that income is taken away from her Income Assistance check for trying to better herself with that job. A very discouraging thing to deal with if you must pay for child care as well. Another expense that can be anywhere from $250-$1300 a month in this city.
A single mom with 2 children must take that $205 and eat, pay medications and clothing. Breaking it down to a minimum, $15 for medication *1 RX per person (under pharmacare at $5 a shot) once a month. But we ALL know that doesn’t happen ALL the time* and $50 for clothing for 3 people. This leaves a total of $140 for the month. THIS is for food. $4.66 a day for THREE people. (A huge amount of $1.55 PER person.) A healthy balanced diet requires $75 a week per person. $10.85 a week on IA is only 14% of the actual cost to keep a person healthy. IA sees more people in Dr’s offices and hospital due to the lack of a proper diet. This leads to more meds being required and less money for food… (See where I am going with this?)
A single parent who decides to get an education, is amazing. OH Fantastic! She could be ANYTHING she wants to be… BUT NOT IF SHE’S POOR!!!
FACT: Income Assistance DICTATES that if a single mother even TRIES to do well for herself by getting an education; that if she should choose ANYTHING they don’t approve of then they will not support her. If she gets a student loan, she’s on her own. There is no daycare support, there isn’t any income other than that student loan. That loan covers school costs, not child care or rent or food. Nova Scotia’s Income assistance system is BROKEN! It needs to be mended. So people who need it can survive. So they can CHOOSE who they want to be; so someone in a higher seat with an education can’t look down on them and say. “NO you can’t be this, because I said so.” Single parents are already considered to be the bad guy by ex spouses who don’t pay child support on a system where they are told they are WRONG to need help. I don’t want a job based on what someone told me I could be, I want one based on my passions! Something I love to do. I love to help, but I don’t want to be a nurse. I’m resourceful and creative, but I’m not allowed to get the higher education I want because it’s NOT approved!
WHY is it that the single parent is the “bad guy” when they ask for help? The stigma of “Oh she’s lazy“, or “He’s milking the system” is something I’ve heard time and time again. It’s a HORRIBLE feeling knowing you’d not be there in that situation if your ex supported the child you both brought into the world, and if you could have a job based on an education YOU chose; BUT in NS… deadbeat parents (Most proven to be men) get a free ride. How is it that their RIGHTS are “violated” when we asked for their parental rights to be revoked if that parent hasn’t made ANY effort to support that child? Isn’t abandonment of a child considered a crime? If so then WHY the hell should a parent endure the pain of being told that THEY HAVE to find their ex in order to get maintenance that the other parent is obviously avoiding? That WE as single parents without income to hire an investigator to track down our ex’s and to serve them so we can take them to court for money we will never see.
In Nova Scotia; as of October of 2014; deadbeat parents owed $65 MILLION dollars in support to their children. Over 90% of them STILL have their licences. Many move to other provinces because they know that an ISO (Interim Service Order) order is needed before they can get wages garnished out of province and even then it’s a struggle, and why? Because other provinces will not work with maintenance enforcement to accomplish a greater goal of seeing child poverty lessened due to dead beat parents lack of support. I think it’s high time that something was done about this issue and NOW. It’s been over 30 years and hardly ANY solid changes have been made! I think if a parent is court ordered to pay they should and if not they should be jailed, losing their licence should be done after $500 is in arrears not say the $170,000 like Mr. Joe Power did to his wife Angela who’s been fighting in court since 1991!! I believe their medical should be revoked as well. Insurances of ANY kind should also be denied till they’re are paid in full.
The Family Court laws and rules ALSO need to be revamped and changed to give single parents a chance to have SOME control over their children’s needs. A child should NEVER be allowed to be abused by a person who doesn’t want them by the neglect and lack of support. I believe if that parent walks out they should lose their rights, give those rights to the parent who is THERE for their child! I have heard time and time again, “But what about that dad/mom’s rights, what if they turn their life around?” My response to this is… Then they shouldn’t have been a parent in the first place if you can abandon a child like a puppy, you’re a criminal. If justice is given it should be to the parent who is there at 3 in the morning while that child is sick, the one who feeds and clothes them.
I think if an active parent so chooses to, giving the option to have the other parent give up their rights should be a viable option. ANY maintenance owed would still be required to be paid but new amounts would cease, OR after so many years of the deadbeat parent not being in the child’s life it would be deemed abandonment and the child’s active parent would have all rights while the inactive one would lose their rights as abandonment would be deemed a punishable offence. For example a parent shouldn’t have to struggle to have their child’s last name changed back to their own if they so chose because that ex refuses to co-operate and allow it because he has rights on a child he abandoned. It makes the other active parent feel helpless and less important even though they are doing all the work. WHERE ARE THEIR RIGHTS? I ask this because this is what I hear others are dealing with right now, one lady I know with an ex spouse who owes over $14000 in back support and he’s been gone 3 years! (But she has NO rights to change his last name to her own because her ex has “rights” on a child he abandoned… NOT FAIR!)
So Mr. Prime Minister… This is where I stand. As a single parent I want what is best for my children, but I can’t give it to them when their father chose to walk out one day without a word and NO support. I can’t give it to them when feeding them on $1.55 each has become a nearly impossible task and food banks are the norm. I can’t give it to them if they see me struggle to get a better education only to be told “NO” because it’s not approved by someone who DOES have an education. I can’t tell my children they can be anything they want to be when it’s a lie. Being poor and relying on a broken system is like a stranded swimmer out on a vast ocean. I’m going nowhere treading water, and I’m going to drown without a life preserver. Without the support, I’m just another statistic with kids who are going to end up the same way, and this sir is NOT what I want for my children.
Thanks for your time.
Sylvia AJ White,