All opinions and views stated on this site belong solely to Corina Lynn Becker, and do not represent or reflects the views and opinions of any organizations, unless otherwise specified.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Social Assistance, Poverty, and the Cost of Living

I've written about Disability and poverty before.  And now we're getting in to the election season here in Canada again, so it's a topic that's coming up.

My friend Katrina Sauvé, has written the following and given me permission to repost it here:

as someone who has lived on OW/ODSP:
housing: geared to income shared housing is the ONLY thing you're going to be able to afford on the under $500/month that these programs give you
yes, that does not work with some people's mental needs, sucks to be them (and if I had enough money to change that, I would)
Transportation: $141/month? so not happening.
if you're not working, you probably can limit your bus trips to once/week and budget accordingly. yes, if you're disabled but the government hasn't admitted it yet, you're kind of screwed 'cause you won't be able to get your laundry AND groceries AND appointments all in that day
if working, you probably want to get a discounted bus pass (yes, Kingston, and hopefully other cities do give a discounted monthly bus pass to low-income persons. I advise you/your workers look into this)
Groceries: I manage to get groceries for about $200/month (or at least I spent $200.14 on all food in the month of May 2015)
tips: things like the Good Food Box Kingston are your friend; cooking big batches and and freezing the leftovers is your friend; lentils, beans, pork and potatoes are your friends; pasta and rice are your friends; buying in bulk as much as possible is your friend; if you will eat sausages/baloney/hot dogs/liver/tongue etc, they are your friend; dairy, fresh/frozen fish, high quality cheese, chocolate/candy and soda pop are your enemies, buy as few as possible of those (though do get yourself some single serving yogurts and either sour cream/ice cream/cheap cheese so you aren't missing out on calcium etc), also avoid any beverages but water, tea/coffee, water w/ flavouring
if you are on OW, you CANNOT afford to eat out unless it is at a soup kitchen, you will NEED a soup kitchen (and yes it sucks), and you may need the food bank. If you do not take advantage of these services, YOU WILL GO INTO DEBT. You do not have enough money to AFFORD to go into debt. USE THE FRICKEN SOUP KITCHENS/FOOD BANK.
Entertainment and Dining Out:
if you are on OW: FREE THINGS. do ALL OF THE FREE THINGS. let yourself have about $10 (aka ONE film/cheap eating out) PER MONTH to keep yourself from going crazy
yes, you will go into debt that way. do it anyway
ODSP: you can eat out two or three times a month if you keep it at or under $12 per time... you are allowed to substitute a film or show for one or more of these. if you are careful, you can do ONE convention/holiday where you pool money w/ others/stay w/ friends PER YEAR. Choose wisely, set your budget ahead and save $20/month ish towards that.
Drinks: Alcolhol is not worth it on either OW or ODSP. it is far to expensive for the joy it gives you. If a friend is buying you alcolhol that is ok, don't buy it yourself.
Health and Fitness: the gym is not worth it for the money you have, especially since you can do things like walk every day, run, bicycle (buy a SECOND-HAND bike for $40 ish at a police auction), skate (Play It Again Sports is your friend for reasonably priced skates, find outdoor/free rinks in winter or even cheap skates through local rinks) or swim (yes, A half-decent swimsuit, cheap towel/bag are worth the investment, as is the cheapest swimming place in town)
if you are on OW: depending on if there is water nearby, you may be able to swim w/ friends for free, if there are no ponds/rivers/lakes, consider any funds you spend on swimming/skating as part of your ~ $10/month entertainment fund
parks often have skating rinks set up for free in the winter
Walking/running/biking are your friends
does all of this seem unreasonably hard?
If you have the energy, GET INVOLVED IN POLITICS and lobby for HIGHER tax rates for corporations, LESS of a wage gap and MORE money for those on ODSP/OW (or even a GUARANTEED MINIMUM INCOME that will let someone survive, if slightly uncomfortably).
I spend $5/year on NDP* membership, because, from what I can tell, they most support those of us who are low/no income.
Greens and Liberals aren't bad choices either.

*NDP, for those outside of Canada, is it New Democratic Party.  See, we don't just have one Liberal/Democratic party... we have at least two.... Three if you count the Green Party. 

Me? I'm looking at the article and wondering how they're making their estimates.  Cause yeah, if you go out for drinks and shit, stuff is going to cost. ($18 for an alcoholic drink????) 

But apparently, that's all we young people are doing these days, lounging around our excellent downtown apartments, cooking all the meals, taking each other out on dates, and drinking in excess.  

Right... I'm sorry, isn't there a recession going on? Isn't there something like only a 5% job growth for most parts of our country? Don't our older generation complain that we're living at home and not doing anything?  Maybe cause we don't have jobs and don't have money to do any of this shit???? 

Oh, and of course, how many of us are on ODSP/OW? You know, living below the poverty line? 

Yeah, fuck this shit, let's all get out there and vote.