Thursday, October 15, 2009

Canada Unveils New National Anthem

It has a catchy tune and the words are so heart felt and meaningful. I shed a little tear.

However, we have a great many reasons why not to like or trust this man. His disconnect with the Canadian people and combative approach to politics and foreign relations, is resulting in our losing our place in the world.

However, his inability to look beyond the goals of his wealthy cohorts, and recognize that many Canadians are suffering, should be our wake up call.

I spoke with a social worker last week, who is employed with Ontario Works, and I asked her how things were going. She confirmed a heavier than usual case load, but also mentioned something else that she found troubling.

She says that most of her new clients have never been on social assistance before. Many are in their 40's or 50's concerned that even if jobs do open soon, preference will be given to younger applicants. They are not old enough to retire, but feel that are too old to be marketable.

But it was her final comment that made me think. She said that they always sit across from her with their heads down, finding it difficult to make eye contact.

Far too many Canadians have their heads down these days, I'm afraid, for a great many reasons.

The Numbers

• According to Statistics Canada’s low-income cutoff threshold, 637,000 Canadians under the age of 18 live in low-income households.

• According to the Organization for Economic and Cooperative Development, one in seven Canadian children lives in poverty.

• Generally, people considered to be low income in Canada are those whose disposable income is at least 50 per cent less than the national median income, which is $63,600 for two or more people.

Ignatieff: EI issues cause food bank use
The Canadian Press
October 12, 2009

OTTAWA — Inadequate employment insurance benefits are forcing more and more people to turn to food banks for help, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff said Sunday.

Canada’s unemployment rate actually fell in September, dropping to 8.4 per cent. That’s a decline of 0.3 percentage points from August, and the first such drop since last fall when the recession took hold.

The dip is a reason to rejoice, Ignatieff said Sunday, but he’s also worried about the toll the recession is taking on unemployed people who have not been able to find new jobs.

"What I think everybody worries about is how sustained this fall in unemployment will be. We encourage it, but the facts are that some of the unemployment is very persistent," Ignatieff said outside a food drive at an Ottawa farmer’s market, a day after touring a food bank in Toronto.

"In Toronto, at the food bank I was at yesterday, a lot of people are using the food bank because they’ve run out of their EI," he said, pointing to a 17 per cent increase in food bank use in that city last year. "That’s a serious issue."

The length of time a person can collect employment insurance benefits depends on the unemployment rate in the region. The maximum time for high-unemployment areas is 50 weeks. The Tories increased the maximum time by five weeks in the January budget. (But only if you've paid into it for at least 7 continous years)

The Liberals have argued for a single national standard. They’ve also criticized the government for being too slow to spend $12-billion in money set aside to bring the economy back to life.

Ignatieff said he hopes reliance of food banks diminishes as employment picks up, but he’s not too optimistic.

"We’ve got a long way to go. The recovery is very bumpy, and I hope next year we’ll have fewer people using the food bank, that’s for sure."

Ignatieff and his wife Zsuzsanna Zsohar followed up their trip to the Ottawa market with a stint at a large soup kitchen in the downtown core. After a couple of weeks of intense political pressure stemming from poor polling results and the resignation of his Quebec lieutenant, Ignatieff seemed relaxed and content to be in neutral territory, ladelling out bowls of soup and plates of stroganoff for the hungry and homeless.

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