Many things have happened during the past 10 months or so, few of them good.
Here in Nova Scotia we are the apparent envy of the world during this pandemic, yet we will not help our fellow community members.
The sudden rise of homelessness and poverty in Nova Scotia is appalling and unnecessary, and an embarrassment.
Let us not forget that a few years ago some people in Nova Scotia set fire to a homeless man and killed him. They hated him for being poor. They thought they were better than him.
Let me assure you, you are not better than someone simply because you have money.
Many people in this province work 40 hours a week at minimum wage and just come up short through no fault of their own. Because a take home pay of about $1600 a month does not cut the mustard, frankly. Many rents are at least $1400 a month which leaves extraordinarily little for anything after even a crappy roof over your head.
Do we as Nova Scotians think the people that serve us coffee and work in our grocery checkouts, or heck even work at daycares taking care of our children are not worthy of having a decent life?
And it’s hard enough for single people, but imagine trying to provide for a family on a take home pay of $1600 a month?
With rising rents it’s no wonder the food banks are seeing so many people in their lineups with full time jobs.
And, there are even people with full time employment with no place to live.
Yup, that is the situation in Nova Scotia. Regular working people, sleeping on the street. They cannot even get into a shelter a lot of the time now and most people would not even want to stay at the shelter.
note – this great little opinion piece is wonderful that the Herald ran the other day:
I have lived below the official poverty line much of my adult life. My crime, being single with a low to modest income depending on the year. I’m fine as in comparison to most of the world, myself and most others live like Kings and Queens here in Nova Scotia, however my water got cut off 5 years ago and it was quite an eye opener.
I had no notice it would be cut off and it was freezing cold outside. So cold that my car got stuck in the driveway for 3 days because I couldn’t afford a 4 dollar bag of road salt that week. I phoned and emailed many agencies including my MLA and City Councilor and even the office of the Mayor and nobody could tell me how I was expected to survive without the ability to flush the toilet or how I go without drinking water. Not one suggestion or offer of help. I told Halifax Water I could pay the entire bill in two weeks time on the 1st of the month when I would be paid (2 cycles due which equals 6 months as they don’t have monthly billing which seems to create it’s own problems) and nobody would budge. Halifax Water suggested I bring in some snow to melt! It was so cold after 12 hours inside no snow had melted in my mop bucket though. Well and you’d need a lot of buckets even on a warm day. Too bad I hadn’t saved some of that rainwater Halifax Water charges us for, my bad.
My mistake that year was filling my oil tank when the price of oil was double the usual price. The year was the year 2015, and it’s when I completely lost faith in the administration of HRM, and our province.
I had a very rough go and no help, but I am still alive.
I expect others are not so fortunate and thankfully I did not have young thirsty children. Most people suffer in silence and certainly do not deserve this, particularly here in our land of plenty.
I’m not a bit ashamed of what happened to me as I’ve been working since I was 16 years old and am far from lazy, however I did encounter a fair bit of snootiness from people who seem to look down on their noses at people who don’t make lots of money. Folks, you gotta get over yourself we all put our pants on one leg at a time and many things people do to make lots of money are done at a significant expense to others. North American society needs a serious value reset I believe.
The most interesting thing I learned from that personal crisis was the top brass at Halifax Water both recommend and approve their own salaries. And they are very well paid. This does not seem to me how a regulatory board for a municipality should work but do some googling, you will be shocked!
Also worth of note that water is generally the most expensive utility in HRM homes. Heck Halifax Water even charges you for rain falling from the sky. This should be kept in check, and I think the regulatory board needs a watchdog.
Anyway, clean drinking water and access to toilets are just one challenge the at risk and vulnerable face every day. And the homeless people face that on top of being cold and hungry.
To me it seems not many people care, otherwise they would be rattling the chains of their MLA, MP, and City Councilors…hint hint!
Luckily, there are some kind souls working in the community that you can help to do their jobs.
I spoke with Eric Jonsson last week about some people who are living on the streets in tents and cardboard shacks that I found out walking my dogs, and he and his team went with the community nurse to make sure they are okay. A dangerous and thankless job if you ask me.
Please help them to make their jobs easier and make sure some people are warm and cared for as the temperatures are dropping fast.
Approximately 10 years ago I did some contract work fixing computers throughout the NS provincial government and visited all departments. I can tell you firsthand that Community Services is vastly underfunded. This a huge problem. I also noted that the media department had tons of cash flow. Disgusting. As a province Nova Scotia needs to reset its priorities to be in line with good ethics and values. Not slick double talk feed the hungry and put a roof over people’s heads. How can we possibly look at other countries and wonder how their children are starving when so many children are hungry in Nova Scotia? We gotta do a lot better.
So, please speak to your local MLA about refunding Community Services…with the current defund the police discussions it is the perfect timing too.
Here are a few organizations (will add more shortly) you can check in with to make a difference in your community. I would suggest cash is king, but if you are cleaning out the closets there are also items you can donate, with warm coats and mittens and gloves being top of list now.
Street Navigator – does outreach in tangent with community nurses at the street level in HRM
Dartmouth Housing Help – also do outreach
Anyway, this holiday I hope all the small hearts in Nova Scotia will grow at least three sizes!