It’s all good, by golly, except for …

po folk
An item in the morning paper tells of a magnanimous offer by Vancouver Island University to waive tuition costs for students on the ‘system’.

On the surface this seems like a wonderful idea. And even down deeper it still looks great that children raised in foster homes, who have suffered abuse in their homes and have been placed in continuing care facilities, many of whom are aboriginal.

Not only is tuition to be waived, there will also be assistance with the costs of books, housing and so forth. In other words, the stuff that makes many students end up in hock, sometimes for decades after graduation and after that graduation they can only hope to secure a well-paying professional position.

Again, for all of this, a big ‘woo-hoo!’ except for one thing that has stuck in my craw for years.

Yes, for the state to cover the tab for the genuine poor is likely a good thing, but the one group that never gets any of its tab covered and invariably ends up with the shitty end of the stick is the working poor! Earn your keep slinging hash, mopping up other people’s vile hotel/motel rooms, or pick fruit in season, all in the name of making ends meet and there is no help for you.

This became so apparent to me when I was compiling information for the Comox Valley Homelessness study a few years ago. There are many families who live so close to the bone that they are one month’s paycheque away from living in the streets. Kick a woman to the curb from the fast food eatery at which she toils and her tykes are going to go hungry.

Go to university?? Ha! Dream on, kids. You will end up in the same crap jobs as your parents because your mom and dad are honorable people who believe in paying their own way in life. You know, they continue to believe what everybody used to believe. But, they get no help for continuing to believe this way.

OK, for anybody local reading this, here are some fast facts for Vancouver Islanders. You live in a geographic entity of which the basic pay rate is fifteen percent lower than the rest of the province. If you live in the Comox Valley you’re doubly screwed because here the average rate of pay is fifteen percent lower than Vancouver Island in general. There are many reasons excuses are made for this, but most of them don’t wash. The main thing is, we don’t pay enough for the work people do.

But, because you actually work to try to keep your family going, there ain’t no official help for your kids who want to break free of the bonds of poverty.

Does that suck? Sure does.


14 responses to “It’s all good, by golly, except for …

  1. It odes indeed suck, but c’mon now, society needs these working poor, cause really, who’ll pick up after the entitled ones if there are no poor to do it?

  2. As well, just because you get a university education (whether or not you pay for it yourself), there is no guarantee that you will land that high-paying job for which you are supposedly now qualified. Case in point: my own Darling Daughter, who, despite 6 years of higher education, has not yet been able to snare full-time continuing work in her field in the two years that she has been hunting. That sucks too.

  3. Your words resonate as i think all western nations suffer the consequences of capitalism and consumerism…and the working poor are screwed. I recently saw a documentary on hunger in America called A Place at the Table which I would recommend and which ably demonstrated the points you make in this post and more…

    • The working poor are indeed screwed. There was a time when people who only had the skill set to enable them to be laborers could still earn a reasonable living and raise their families.

  4. I do think that kids in low income families should get more aid to be able to go to school. Don’t we want to have a well-educated next generation??? I would prefer it!

  5. This was something that always struck me back when I worked human services here in the States. If you truly had nothing, there was help. If you were doing okay, you didn’t need help. And then there was that group in between, who had *just* enough to eke by every month, but couldn’t even think about saving for something small, let alone retirement, college, a busted car, a medical bill… People rant and rave about “welfare moms” but I had to recommend a client turn down a raise at work at one point because the raise was enough to push her over the edge of her assistance allotment, but wasn’t enough to cover the amount she was about to lose. And now I will stop because my soapbox is about to come out. Suffice it to say, I feel strongly about the system needing an overhaul.

    • You make exactly my point and those stories are repeated everywhere. I knew a woman who was a divorced single mom living on the system and she told her social worker she wanted to get off and get a job for the sake of her own dignity. She was advised to forget about it. She had 3 daughters to raise so she could never earn enough at a shit job to support them.

  6. I felt the blood pressure rising listening to two people involved in social work congratulating themselves on the improvement in children taken away on sailing weekends….but only children in care or from disruptive families qualified for this.
    What about kids from ‘working poor’ households? Why can’t they benefit?
    Because no one in the ‘caring professions’ makes any money from living off their backs.

  7. oh how annoying – i seem to have deleted a long comment I wrote about friends of mine who have had their working hours cut and are bringing hardly any money in but do not qualify for benefits. They are really struggling now and university is simply not an option for their daughter as they need her to get any old job just to help with the household income

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