Thursday, May 11, 2006

Poetry

Women are struggling far and near.
Women are struggling everywhere.
It's time to lend a hand, no matter where you're from.

Mothers don't shed no tear, be strong your time is near.
for you to break the cycle of poverty and despair.
Hold your heads high and show no fear.
Mothers don't shed no more tears.

by: Donna

Notable Event: Take Back Mother's Day - March & Protest

This event is sponsored and promoted by the Disabled Women's Network of Ontario (DAWN):

Published at http://dawn.thot.net/take_back_mothers_day.html


Take Back Mother's Day - March & Protest

May 14th 2006 at 2:00 pm
15 Huntley Street (Sherbourne and Bloor) - Toronto

For most Canadians, Mother's Day is a time when families honour their mother's hard work. But for many of low income families find that on Mother's Day, peace and joy is in very short supply, especially now that more than 30,000 of their youngsters languish in foster homes.

We did not lose our children because of abuse, rather we lost our children because of poverty, lack of affordable adequate housing, being single, being young, having a child with special needs, being in recovery from substance abuse issues, having survived an abusive partner, or having worked in the Adult Entertainment Industry.

Silenced for decades by shame and guilt, we suffered alone with our grief, believing that we were the only ones. Now we find that we are not alone. Mother's Day began as a day to honour the public activism of mothers. It began in 1870 because mother's declared that they would not lose their children as casualties of war.

On Sunday May 14th 2006, let's "Take Back Mother's Day" by joining with Mothers across Toronto as we rally in front of the Children's Aid Society at 15 Huntley Street at 2:00pm to demand:

* 40% increase in social assistance rates

* The creation of more housing geared to low income families

* Build more daycare spaces for low income families

* End to the clawback of child tax benefits

* End the discrimination against mother's who work in the Adult Entertainment Industry

* End the apprehension of children because their mother has a disability

* That the city of Toronto create family orientated treatment centres

Since the Mike Harris cutbacks to social assistance payments more and more mother's are in precarious financial circumstances often finding themselves unable to afford their hydro, gas, telephone and other necessities. By not being able to afford these necessities the Children's Aid Society can intervene and remove the child, citing "neglect".

Cutbacks in social programs - particularly in the area of housing- have led to shortages of affordable housing. A recent study by the Children's Aid Society of Toronto found that in the year 2000, housing was a factor in one in five cases where children were taken in care - a dramatic 60% increase over a similar study in 1992. They also found that lack of adequate housing caused a delay in the return of children to their parents in more than 11% of cases.

In cases where their children are taken into care, parents lose their child benefits forcing them to move into smaller apartments or rooms inadequate for living with their children. This creates a catch 22 system where in order for a mother to get her children back she must obtain proper living arrangements that she cannot afford without custody of her children. Thus, it becomes extremely difficult for low income mother's to get their children back once their children are taken into care. Imagine instead a system that worked in the best interest of the children and their mother's instead of a system that perpetrates a cycle of poverty and foster care.

Women with disabilities may find themselves under the scrutiny of Children's Aid Society by virtue of their disability alone. Once scrutinized, it may be difficult to remove oneself from the child protection system. In some cases, women have contacted the Children's Aid Society for support and assistance with parenting, only to find themselves the subject of an investigation. Other women are reported to the authority during pregnancy and have to fight to prevent the removal of their newborn from their care solely because the authority believes their disability prevents them from being able to parent. Other women, perhaps because of vulnerabilities caused by disability (a tendency to defer to authority, for instance), enter into what they believe to be "voluntary" agreements with Children's Aid Society only to find those voluntary arrangements used against them later by the same officials.

Many women experiencing substance abuse issues or mood disorders are often hesitant to seek treatment as they fear that in doing so they may lose their children.

Sex workers (dancers, escorts, dominants, phone sex operators), are also at risk of losing their children due to their profession. Even though it is NOT illegal to be a sex worker in Canada, the Children's Aid workers have discretionary powers for apprehending children of women working in the sex industry. This means that if a CAS worker objects to the mother's profession based on their own personal moral values, her children can be apprehended and taken into care regardless of whether they've experienced any actual abuse.

Furthermore, the number of children who have been taken into temporary custody as a result of witnessing their mother's being assaulted increased by at least 870% (no that is not a typo) between 1993-1998. With limited income supports, affordable regulated childcare, affordable housing, and emergency shelters operating at full capacity, there are few options for women who are being assaulted and abused, leaving them and their children at risk of continued violence, poverty and involvement with the Children's Aid Society. Thus, the shortages in affordable housing and emergency shelters are closely linked to the number of children who are victims of prolonged violence and involvement with the Children's Aid Society.

THIS MOTHER'S DAY LETS STAND UP FOR WOMEN AND THEIR CHILDREN AND TAKE BACK MOTHER'S DAY!

For more information please contact: takebackmothersday@hotmail.com

or click on this email link mailto:takebackmothersday@hotmail.com

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Federal Budget Watch

Daycare plans a joke: Parents

Wed, May 3, 2006

By MICHELE HENRY, TORONTO SUN

Angela Romita laughed aloud after learning the federal government expects her to be able to afford daycare for her 4-year-old son with an extra $100 a month. "That doesn't provide two days of babysitting," said the single mom, in response to the Stephen Harper government's plan to give parents $1,200 a year for each child under 6 years old. "It doesn't even provide a week of groceries and it's taxable, so it's not even $100."

PROGRAM PANNED

From the library at Withrow Public School in the city's eastend, Romita, 33, joined a handful of concerned parents and child activists yesterday to watch as Finance Minister Jim Flaherty handed down the new Conservative government's first budget.

There were sighs as Flaherty announced that the $3.7-billion child-care budget would be divided to "give parents choice." Jane Mercer, of the Toronto Coalition for better Child Care, was not pleased to hear about the $1,200 a year, which will start July 1, nor about the $250 million over two years starting in 2007 to create 50,000 spaces for a "universal child-care" plan. "The only universal thing about this is that it gives Canadian families a rotten deal from coast to coast," she said.

FEWER SPACES

"This is not child care." With plans devised by the former Liberal government, Mercer hoped to get a promised $5 billion over five years to build 125,000 child-care spaces across Canada. The decrease in the number of spaces is troubling, she said, adding it will be impossible to build anything with the $5,000 per space that the current budget allows. "You can't build a child-care space for that kind of money," she said, noting Toronto may not be able to afford the 3,600 child-care spaces it was planning to build. "Do the math. In Toronto we know that if you're going to build a space it's going to cost $30,000."

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Provincial Budget Watch

Single Mom Sees Red
2% hike not enough, they say
By MICHELE HENRY, TORONTO SUN
March 24, 2006

Angela Romita, a single mom raising her 4-year-old son on $1,000 a month, wasn't impressed with what was in yesterday's provincial budget and was horrified by what was left out.
"There's only a 2% increase in social assistance?" she said, still stunned moments after Finance Minister Dwight Duncan delivered Ontario's budget for 2006.
"That's only $20 a month. Now I can provide extra granola bars? And, how could they not increase minimum wage? Am I going to be stuck on welfare for the rest of my life?"
The 33-year-old Torontonian joined other single moms, Trinity-Spadina MP Olivia Chow, city councillor Janet Davis and various children's activists yesterday afternoon to watch the budget broadcast on TV at City Hall.
Hopeful before they took their seats, all were disappointed that social assistance benefits and living allowances will increase by only 2% and that the Liberal government failed to make good on an election promise to stop clawing back federal child- tax benefits.
Laurel Rothman of Campaign 2000, a coalition fighting to improve conditions for those living in poverty, was disappointed the Liberals announced they will spread out the federally allotted child-care funding over three years.
Stretching to survive right now -- a land-line telephone her only luxury -- Elita, a single mother with a 6-year-old, says she's struggling to pull herself from the pit of welfare into which she's fallen.
The 37-year-old, who did not want her last name published, is scrapping together ever penny so she can afford to apply to study social work at Ryerson University in the fall.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Letter to the Editor

If the most ominous sign for any society is the seething presence of a permanent underclass, perhaps this explains why the facts in the editorial, Up from Low Incomes (Globe & Mail Apr 7/06), were so distorted in so many ways! After all being in blissful denial, be it far from reality, is often the way privileged like to deal with these types of issues!

First, a single parent (mostly moms) on social assistance receives $1000.00 a month and $240.00 for the child tax benefit (which is clawed back by social assistance, so that the only people who get the full amount are the working class, not the truly poor of the poorest). After rent, food, metro pass, and phone (often a luxury item!) there is nothing left - no school trip or annual class photo, no clothes, take out, sports or movies for the children, nada!

To work you need daycare, (social assistance takes 50% of your earnings so an $8.00 hr job becomes a $4.00 hr job). To go to school you need the $105.00 admissions fee, plus the $65.00 mature student fee, where is it to come from for a person who wants to better themselves?

Stats Canada may give the impression that less people are on assistance roles. However, these figures may be due to individuals now receiving no income at all; hence the rise in homelessness, panhandlers and starving children. Shelters are at full capacity, food banks run out of food all the time. What do theses facts tell you?

Social assistance is designed to be just barely enough to live off of, but not get off of!

Think about these facts: 443,000 children (one in every six!) live in poverty - 37% in Ontario alone! Poor children living in working families has doubled in the past 10 years. 33% of poor children live in full time employed families. This budget social assistance rates were raised by 3% (or $30.00 per every thousand), but cut backs of special diet, medical, etc were in the 20% range! Minister of Community and Social Services, Sandra Pupatello, was quoted from a CBC radio show aired in Oct. as saying "I'll be the first one to stand up and tell you I don't believe people can live healthily with the amount people receive on social assistance." Then turned around and slashed special diets for ill recipients!

In short, if minimum wage went up, if more incentives were created to help social assistance recipients gain access to education, if more daycare spaces were created, poverty would go down. It is a fallacy that everyone on welfare loves that life and 'lives high on the hog'. In truth, it is the worse, most humiliating, predicament one could be in. I know first hand, I am trying get off and stay off!

Elita McAdam