Comment 65522

By HMP (anonymous) | Posted July 04, 2011 at 18:26:19

"....through no fault of their own...."

Why are those living in poverty, by default, labelled as hopeless and helpless victims?

There is no question that there are many deserving recipients of social assistance in our city; I have no issue with that. However, my wife and I both have careers that bring us into regular contact with social assistance recipients. The truth is, many who receive welfare (oops, sorry, Ontario Works) have made the CHOICE to live in "poverty."

My wife teaches at an education centre where, theoretically, welfare recipients must attend to receive their cheques. Naturally, there are never any consequences for not attending class; recipients still get their money. Numerous students have threatened my wife for marking them absent (even though there are no financial consequences). Students attend her class high on a regular basis, steal bus tickets from the school to sell them elsewhere, spend the day sleeping in the classroom, openly resist searching for employment, and pregnant students brag that their payments will increase upon the birth of their child.

To a certain degree, individuals must take responsibility for their actions. I understand povery; it was a part of my young life for many years. However, I decided to stay in school and resisted the urge to get a neck tattoo and sit on my ass in Gore Park during working hours (nothing against neck tattoos, it just seems to be a prerequisite for people my age loitering in Gore Park).

Ryan is correct when he says that it is far more costly to allow people to become homeless than it is to support them through social assistance, but we are obviously dealing with a terribly flawed system. In many cases, money is being directed to the wrong individuals (another one of my favourite examples of our flawed system is an individual my wife has taught who collects disability because he cannot fall asleep before 4am....ever heard of the night shift?? The poor guy deals weed to supplement his social assistance).

Basically, I've grown tired of blanket sympathy statements about individuals living in poverty in our city. There are many people who are in legitimate need, and they deserve to live lives filled with support (of many kinds) and dignity. The rest have made their own bed.

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