Letters – February 3

Re: Choosing my Religion - Jan.27-Feb.2

Trapping believers

Re: Choosing my Religion – Jan.27-Feb.2

Congrats on your article! It seems as if religions get captured by their “true believers” and with that, all other folk get trapped. They all seem to slide into fundamentalism and become political. If they then get enough power to get elected then the rest of us pay in spades for their beliefs being turned into law. See the abortion issues in Canada for an example.

Phil Lyons , View Royal

The poverty trap

Re: Frustration of Welfare – Jan.27-Feb.2

Kudos to Monday Mag for highlighting how the impacts of the Ministry of Social Development’s (MSD) current backlogs and service delays are causing undue hardship for low-income Victorians forced to depend on income assistance (IA) for their basic needs. I say forced, because for many there is no other option. There is no earnings exemption for people living on income assistance.  Every cent they earn is deducted dollar for dollar from their cheque and once they make over $610, they are ‘kicked off’ welfare, leaving them with no certainty regarding their income for the next month.  Which would you choose? A guaranteed $610/month or the possibility of a few shifts up at Wal-mart which may or may not leave you ineligible for IA next month with no money for rent.  Then there is the money it costs to get to the job or to purchase decent clothes and you begin to get a picture of the poverty trap we’ve created. Additional barriers to employment also exist, such as mental health and addictions issues, racism, low-literacy rates and high unemployment.

I would also like to know how much of MSD’s increased budget is going to service delivery or did it go to their new computer system, which, thus far has caused only grief for our clients. People should know that TAPS is here to help. If you think you’ve been denied something from the Ministry that you think may be entitled to, contact us. We will check the legislation and ensure your rights are protected.

Kelly Newhook, Executive Director

Together Against Poverty Society (TAPS)

Good luck to Mike who is currently on income assistance. Mike needs more than good luck when B.C. has the highest rate of child poverty in Canada and the lowest minimum wage in Canada. When are the politicians going to stop playing politics and start passing some progressive legislation?

Dr. Joan McHardy, Victoria

Thank you for addressing issues with income assistance. I believe it is important for the public to be aware of the frustrations that people in poverty experience. Your real-life stories put a face to those living on income assistance and show that poverty cannot simply be fixed by forcing people facing poverty to try harder or make better choices.

Melanie Hudson

The frustrations of those receiving or attempting to access income assistance in B.C. are too often hidden. Canadians pride themselves on the existence our social safety net. However, the day-to-day reality of this system and the persistent stigma associated with it cause income assistance recipients to feel anything but “safe.” They find themselves at the mercy of a bureaucracy whose culture of denial is akin to being guilty until proven innocent.

While the Ministry may cite their expanding budget as evidence more individuals are receiving help, one wonders how much is being saved by making the system so inaccessible. How much could society benefit from ensuring citizens do not spiral from underemployment to joblessness or even homelessness?

Why not provide meaningful help to these individuals instead of relying on the inadequate net that is our current income assistance system?

Zoe Macmillan, Victoria

The computer technician in your article has exhausted his EI. That means he’s been out of work for maybe a year. Isn’t it time to conclude that maybe he will have to look elsewhere for work? Most reasonable people would relocate to where the work is, rather than blubbering about how little money welfare gives them. Options are a) relocate to where the job he wants can be found. b) accept available work in Victoria. Sitting in Victoria on welfare, after the EI runs out, is a choice. Not a good one from my perspective, but a choice he has made nevertheless. It’s time to grow a pair, and take responsibility for his own income.

Doug Stephen, Victoria

Lighten up

Re: Report Card – Jan.27-Feb.2

I’m not sure I agree with Monday giving us a failing grade for wanting to stock up on the soon to be banned incandescent lights. From what I understand, the compact fluorescents contain mercury and need to be recycled at a special location. Do you really think that everyone is going to make the effort to return their spent lightbulbs to the proper facility?  Somehow I doubt it. I’d rather have the choice of using the incandescent lights sparingly. They create the right light tones, can be dimmed, are most versatile for design and mood and turn on right when you want them to, not seconds later. I do my part, I live in a condo and don’t drive a Hummer. Leave me with a freedom of choice.

Aiden McAfrey, Victoria

Don’t diss loggers

Re: Report Card – Jan. 20-26

This is to express my disappointment in the grade D given to the 68th annual Truck Loggers Association Convention. While I am not a member of the Truck Loggers’ Association, I find the statement “Sorry, you must have confused us for another town” to be annoying, ignorant and short sighted. 

Your statement is dismissive of the hard physical and mental work that goes into planning, harvesting, reforesting and milling activities. This includes a significant amount of high-technology equipment and data processing systems. 

I suggest that a more positive approach is to look at the lessons learned, how forest and environmental management has improved as a result and how BC society in general and Victoria society in particular have benefitted.

D. Haley, RPF