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November 29, 2012

Hello Young Graduate. How's the life hunt going?

Gen Y Faces Big Risks.  I came across this article Tuesday during my habitual early morning peruse of the twitter feed.  Reading it resulted in one of those "a ha moments" - you know what I mean, when something just finally clicks!  Which is why I thought it important to share.

Members of Generation Y are more educated
and prepared for meaningful work in
our economy, however, they face decreasing
likelihood of getting a good job in their field
with ever increasing amounts of student debt as
governments continue to transfer  what was
traditionally collective risk to individuals.
In this article, David MacDonald, the senior economist for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (one of my favourite Think Tanks) sets out a rationale for why Generation Y faces the possibility of a more bleak future than Baby Boomers did when they were starting out.  And this despite the fact that the life decisions we are required to make today are actually quite similar.

And the reason is..................(drum roll please)...........................................

Risk.

November 15, 2012

Would Joseph need to sell his technicolour dreamcoat to get on social assistance?

Inequality, social assistance and Joseph: Biblical reflections of an advocacy intern on Gen. 47:13-26


Two weeks ago the Social Assistance Review Commission released its final report. The report outlines over 100 recommendations; some simply reiterate what has long been understood – and ought to be implemented immediately – while others require further discussion and scrutiny.  (For an in depth look at the recommendations, see our previous post).

photo credit: www.broadwaycostumes.com
As a theology student and advocacy intern with MCC Ontario, I have found myself reflecting on the biblical narrative as I slowly digest the 180 odd-page report, and have been struck by the parallels with the story of Joseph (Gen. 37 – 50).

In Sunday school I learned that God was with Joseph and prospered him (Gen. 39:2, 21, 23).  However, it seems my teachers forgot to mention that Joseph also exploits a starving people, that he is Pharaoh’s shrewd investment banker; a ruthless monopolist; the Great Enslaver. Within Joseph’s story there lies a deep tension.

November 9, 2012

Diary of an Advocacy Associate: It's time to lighten things up!

That past few posts have been full of some pretty heavy material.  I have to admit, I've been feeling  a little down thinking about all of the negative effects current government policy is having on the lives of people living on low incomes and on our communities in general.  Don't get me wrong, I very much enjoy my job, but just like many of you who deal with difficult situations in your work on a daily basis, it is important to lighten things up every once in a while.

Which is why I was so excited to hear this gem of a song on CBC radio a few weeks ago.

Shemekia Copeland: "Lemon Pie"

Now, I'm no music critic, but I do know when I hear a song that I like.  And, I ask,  what's a blues loving poverty advocate supposed to do when she hears a powerful blues musician singing about income inequality and the woes of the working poor today?

November 2, 2012

Ontario's recent benefit cuts: What they mean for you and your community

Over the past few months, we have heard (or read) a lot of talk about social assistance in Ontario.  Last week, the Social Assistance Review Commission released its report highlighting a path to reforming Ontario’s social safety net (Please see our previous post for a critical look at the report).  The report sets out a number of recommendations – some that should be acted on immediately and many others that require further thought and scrutiny.  The path is a long one, but reforming our social safety net by preventing poverty, reducing inequality and removing barriers to moving out of poverty will well be worth it.

The CSUMB and HRB prevent homelessness in Ontario by
providing last resort assistance for over 16,000 each month
people who are at risk of losing their places
of residence.
Unfortunately, Ontario’s government started making changes long before the report was released.  Budget 2012 cut funding for three benefits that are very important to preventing homelessness and accessing emergency assistance for people living on low incomes in Ontario - CSUMB, the Home Repairs Benefit and Discretionary Benefits.