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Op-ed: Poverty matters! Let's rally at Province House

by Kendall Worth

Long-time poverty activist Kendall Worth argues that we need to take poverty issues straight to the decision makers in Province House. Will you join him? Photo Robert Devet
Long-time poverty activist Kendall Worth argues that we need to take poverty issues straight to the decision makers in Province House. Will you join him? Photo Robert Devet
"Often poor people having next to no energy to do something such as taking part in a protest. This shows  how the welfare system downgrades them.   Others are scared to protest because of how controlling the welfare system is. They fear that something will happen to their income source if they protest." Photo Robert Devet
"Often poor people having next to no energy to do something such as taking part in a protest. This shows how the welfare system downgrades them. Others are scared to protest because of how controlling the welfare system is. They fear that something will happen to their income source if they protest." Photo Robert Devet

On the importance of protesting against poverty. Also the importance of the politicians being present at these poverty protest – and my interest in wanting to hold a number of protest against poverty outside the Nova Scotia House of Assembly during this sitting - also my personal account of trying to get two protest going in that exact spot – one during the year of 2011 and the second in the year of 2012.

 

There is a lot more happening on the poverty front than my personal fight for fairness when it comes to the special needs diet.

So for that reason, I now want to move on, even though my last few articles provide a good example of how living on Income Assistance makes life very hard for people on welfare, and where policy comes in play. As I have said before, losing my special diet funding scarred me for life and has created additional hardships.

My point is that it is mostly politicians who have the power to do something about what is happening with Community Services. That means politicians needs to be part of the audience at protests against poverty.

This is why I am interested in organizing a protest outside the Nova Scotia House of Assembly during the upcoming sitting.

I must say, I tried this before, in 2011 and 2012, but with mixed results.

At the protest in 2011 about 20 people showed up, in 2012 between 10 and 15 people came. That turnout was disappointing because we did a lot to get the word out and I even talked to people who said they were coming who never showed up.

One thing I did wrong in planning this protest, was I had went to my MLA and got advice on how to organize a protest outside the Legislator. He advised me to hold the protest on a Wednesday afternoon at 2pm, because according to him that was the best time of the week to get the MLAs attention.

Later I found out that protest can take place outside the House of Assembly anytime during the week. I have also learned by talking to other MLAs that as long as the house is sitting when the protest is taking place, our chances of getting their attention is 60/40. The reality is whether the MLAs do come out to talk to when we are protesting depends on what is going on inside the house at the time.

More importantly, by talking to people in the poverty community I have come to understand that the reason why most people living in poverty do not want to get out and protest is because of their low energy level they face during their daily lives.

Often poor people having next to no energy to do something such as taking part in a protest. This shows how the welfare system downgrades them.

Others are scared to protest because of how controlling the welfare system is. They fear that something will happen to their income source if they protest.

These are good reasons as to why we need people from outside the poverty community to participate in these protests. After all, it is a known fact that there are people outside the poverty community who care and who are concerned about people who do live in poverty.

In all fairness, there are other groups including ACORN Nova Scotia and the Benefit Reform Action Group (BRAG), that have been doing a lot of demonstrating.

Rallies have been held outside of the constituency office of Community Services minister Joanne Bernard, and at the Community Services offices on Gottingen and Spring Garden Road.

However none of the demonstrating they have done, to my knowledge at least, have taken place outside the Nova Scotia House of Assembly while the House is sitting. I do commend ACORN and BRAG for their work in this regard however.

So this is why I am interested in holding a protest at Province House.

Will people join me?

Click here for more coverage of Community Services and social assistance issues.

 


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Topics: Poverty
666 words

Comments

good point about why many don't protest

There are more reasons then what you list. Not knowing about it would be a significant reason. I only know about this because I still haven't gotten my Internet service disconnected, despite having lost nearly $200 from my monthly income. Once I do, I will be completely cut off from what's going on in the city.

Also, for those who are physically disabled, in particular, in wheelchairs, taking part in a protest is almost impossible. No way am I going to deal with the stressful Access-A-Bus service to go to and from a protest. If the bus doesn't show up to take me home, I'm out a lot of money for a cab. As well, I'm too sick to do much more than feed myself as I have many debilitating and chronic conditions that were present even before being in a wheelchair.

It's unfortunate some think they might have their cheques cut or reduced for protesting.

I hate to say this, but making myself sick (and I would get sick - a migraine for sure) by going to a protest is not going to mean I get the money back that was taken from me.

Replying to EricaL's Comment.

Hello Erica,

To start with I just want to say that this is the second article of mine realting to income asstiance and the fight for change in the ESIA system I have seen you comment on. The first comment was talking about the situation in generial. It was good to see your comment om your situation. I would like to thank you for taking interest in my article and for sounding suppportive in my fight.

I do agree that Transportation to get to a protest can be diffcult for thoese who have moblility issues. However the example of Mobility issues such as the one you had discribed in your situation is something-else that the govemrent doesn to care. Furthermore - our ESIA system is not set up to take thoese with Mobility issues into consideration.  I have been hearing that other's in the Community with Mobility issues have also getting cut transportation money.

 

Again thanks for your comments!

 

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