Muskoka's poor taking a budget hit
Muskoka's poor taking a budget hit - Related Image
IN THE VOID: James Patterson and Chris Boyce say they were left to sleep on the street for day while waiting for social servies to find some solid footing. Even with the help they received, they are worried they will never be able to lead independent lives.
See these two guys? They are the ones the budget will hurt. James Patterson and Chris Boyce exist in a demographic that gets little pity.
They're 19 and 21. Big guys. Easily capable of a day's work, most would say. Well Boyce does work and manages to eek out just $20 too much to make him eligible for financial assistance.
Call him the working poor. And Patterson receives basic assistance from Ontario Works. A single person's stipend is just over $500. That's not enough to pay rent let along eat, stay warm and clothed and get access to the all-important transportation that will enable you to find work.
In Muskoka, our welfare rolls are the largest they have ever been, and growing. And even though inflation promises to be around two per cent this year, those surviving on far-less-than-enough are going to have to make due with even less if the provincial budget is passed.
For boys like Patterson and Boyce, this untenable situation often drives them into the cities where there are at least some men's hostels where they can be dry and relatively safe for the night.
It's a pit of despair few are able to climb out of.
Young men without a marketable skill set, without family support and without a community safety net are vulnerable to every imaginable kind of violence and hardship.
And they have their whole lives in front of them. Wouldn't it make more sense for us, as a community, as a province, and as a nation to take them under our wing for a few years now and help them earn the skills they need to be self-supporting? And I'm talking fiscal sense here.
I would argue that in long-term dollars and cents, providing the tools for young men adrift in society to become self-sustaining - with dignity and in safety, would be the most prudent course of action.