Chronicle Herald: Glavine should walk a mile in a poor man’s shoes

Posted April 15, 2014

“Good health cannot be given to you. Individuals must take responsibility as well. At the end of the day, all Nova Scotians need to do the best they can with what they’ve got, including our support, to lead a healthy lifestyle.” — Health Minister Leo Glavine
 
 
 
Does Mr. Glavine really support us?
 
It’s really not easy having a low income, or worse, no income at all. Having to choose discount white bread over more healthy multi-grain because you can’t afford the extra $2 is a hard way to live.
 
ACORN’s members on assistance, like others on welfare and disability, would love to go to a gym and eat healthier. The cost of living — rent, phone bills, bus passes/tickets — are always going up and assistance rates and wages are just not keeping up.
 
Rather than face our reality, Mr. Glavine chose to play politics with our lives. He decided that pandering to the people who say we’re lazy and living high off the system was more important than our daily struggles to get by: “Then there are people who are cognizant abusers of the system. They accept government assistance, yet still have money to travel. These people are abusing their neighbours’ hard-earned money,” Mr. Glavine said.
 
Income assistance only gives you about $570 for rent and $70 for a bus pass (even though it’s $78 now) and an extra $200 for personal grooming and food. Does he really think there’s a lot of money left over for extravagant vacations?
 
Rent is almost always more than what we’re given and the places we live in are usually run-down with mould, pests and poor security. Our neighbourhoods are overrun with crime and usually far away from services.
 
Grocery stores in our neighbourhoods generally charge more for poor quality food because they know we don’t have anywhere else to go. How does he think we can improve our way of life for the better if we have all these obstacles in our way?
 
It doesn’t help that the support systems we need to live on won’t increase what we are given to cover even the most basic necessities of life.
 
Since Mr. Glavine has had so much to say about us, we’d like to offer a suggestion. Why doesn’t he try to live on assistance for six months? See himself how hard it is to pay your regular bills and buy healthy food that will last month to month. This might shine some light on his harsh judgment of those who have no choice but to live off these cheques each month.
 
Mr. Glavine has the power to change life for the better for those of us who rely on income assistance to get by. He is a member of the provincial cabinet. He has the ear of Premier Stephen McNeil.
 
If he truly wants to help Nova Scotians live healthier, more fulfilling lives, then he should use his power to improve the support systems we rely on.
 
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Written by Nova Scotia ACORN members Jonethan Brigley and Scott Domenie for the Chronicle Herald
 
 
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