The “Angels of the Road” website has been getting a lot of attention this week, I have no idea why but I am hoping it is coming from the shelter industry and human services workers. It would be nice think that what we do has an impact on the ways housing and shelter programs are being planned. The fact is we have been clinging to the delusion that the affluent 1950 will live again…. Times have changed and as a society we need to change also. In the 1950 there were more jobs then workers to fill them; now every job posting has from 50 to 300 applicants. Yes you will occasionally read a headline; northern Alberta or Saskatchewan begging for workers. They are begging for skilled labour and professionals. Industries rarely train workers any more (they did in the 50s). To get a job requires one get an education… in Canada colleges can cost $5000 per year, universities more than that per semester. With 60% of Canadian families living paycheck to paycheck… who has money to put their kids through school? So 60% of our work force is unskilled labour and we love and need our unskilled workers. They serve our coffee at Timmy’s; they show us where to find the coffee at our supermarket and they clean the coffee stains out of our silk blouses. God bless the service industry and all the beautiful people who stay on their feet 6 hrs at a time for minimum wage…we need them and love them. What would life be without drive-thru coffee? So when the other 49 to 299 applicants remain unemployed can we please stop drowned them in shame and guilt. We need to rethink social supports.
When I mention Guaranteed Annual Income (GAI is a program to give every Canadian a modest income which was first introduced in the 1970s) I am confronted with “how are we going to pay for that?” We will pay for it with the money currently being spent to administer social support systems EI, CPP, WCB, GIS, OAS, OW, ODSP (all other provincial counterparts) the list goes on and on. The government also pays for advocates to help you navigate a complex system of check balance ultimate design to judge who is and is not deserving of assistance. Those whom we determine unworthy of assistance then become clients of the shelter system and now starts costing the taxpayer (who pays for all the above as well) $100 per day per person. AWK we are spending BILLIONS to support a system set up in 1950s which is no long valid or workable in today’s economy.