Monday, February 08, 2010

Olympic-Sized BC Liberal Recipe for Poverty & Homelessness

Homeless woman Sleepign on street Homeless woman in Vancouver -

"Housing Minister Rich Coleman said the government's offer was based on [Jean] Swanson's group [Carnegie Community Action Project] promoting their services to the community. She wanted to go further and do a bunch a stuff to criticize and go after different pieces of policy, which frankly didn't surprise me," Coleman said. "That organization hasn't supported anything, whether it be the [government's] purchase of the single-room occupancy hotels or the adding of services for people with mental health and addictions issues, or the housing we've built. There's never been a positive comment come out of them in all the time I've been minister since 2005."

Mike Howell, 12th & Cambie. Vancouver Courier
Published: Friday, February 05, 2010

Coleman, don't piss on us and tell us it's raining. The BC Liberal Poverty Plan, the agenda of soulless neoCon despots the world over worked better and faster than they could have even dreamed. Your government has tragically and dramatically increased the number of homeless and poor children, adults and families in BC. Then yàll realized you had to quickly do something to bandaid it since the world was coming to visit for the bankruptcy event of 2010, er, the Olympics.

Anyone working in social services, on the frontlines and the marginalized classes will tell you that the BC Liberals have been the biggest Misery Merchants and Poverty Pimps in the history of BC.
They have driven a generation of citizens in BC to the streets, to deep, abject unrelenting poverty. A little harsh, hard to swallow or prove. Not at all. It is the truth. It`s so distasteful to mention _that_ sometimes the unrelenting truth hurts and those who mete out the despair and pain for their own benefit don`t like being reminded of their hand in it.

Here is the BC Liberal Recipe for Poverty & Homelessness, which has driven the crisis of homelessness and deep poverty in BC over the last decade.

1. They assembled some of the most bloodthirsty, amoral and vicious ne'er do wells they could find (we don't need to name names, we all know who they are by now and they know it too) and they killed the BC Liberal party from within like a cancer, installing SoCreds and worse.

2. They came to government. Again and again. On lies, omissions, and grave, grave errors of voters lulled into believing the hype. Best Place on Earth - for those with money, sure. The poor and homeless don't vote, who cares.

3. They conducted their core reviews and then carried out massive funding cuts across all governmental Ministries and public sector organizations.

Result - The need to slash thousands from the welfare rolls. They wouldn't haggle over how they accomplished "the numbers."

4. They slashed 11% from the budget to the Child Protection Ministry and over time installed the most incompetent, amoral and overpaid senior bureaucrats in child welfare history in BC. From 2001 to 2010 BC has now had a generation of children and youth left unprotected, abused, neglected and many have been deprived of the basic necessities of life. They sped up booting youth out of care of to fend for themselves, putting them on youth agreements, or just plain slamming the door in the face of youth who came under their mandate to protect, shelter and care for.

Result - The next generation of homeless, ill-socialized and deprived and in survival mode from childhood.
BC has led Canada in child poverty for 6 years. In good times and bad. And the child welfare and family support systems have been sliced and diced with much more planned apres Olympics.

5. They hired and promoted from within those who would ensure that anyone who could be deprived of basic income assistance and disability status would be blocked from getting in the door in the first place. Sounds like rank paranoia, nope, the M.O. is to prevent citizens from accessing services, stop them at the front door, because once they have a foot in it, it's hard to get them out. The peon's may not get that, but that's why they make good peons, they are always in a state of fear, so they will do as they are told.

6. They quickly shut down local welfare offices, consolidating and laying off staff and moving to the call centre model.

7. They did away with disability caseloads, where some of the most marginalized, disabled and vulnerable people benefited from one caseworker who knew their situation, they didn't have to explain things to strangers over and over and get lost in the shuffle.

8. They introduced the arcane and diabolical phone tree system you need a PhD to use and you still can't get a hold of anyone, or leave a message. Good luck if you are an immigrant, have mental illness, Fetal Alcohol syndrome, developmental disabilities, addictions or have any conditions that may make it difficult to navigate the labyrinth.

Result - 75% of Homeless people counted around BC reported that they could not access basic income assistance, or shelter.

Up to 15,500 Homeless: Report
Tally of BC homeless by health profs far higher than housing minister's.

By Andrew MacLeod, 31 Jan 2008,

Housing and Support for Adults with Severe Addictions and/or Mental Illness in British Columbia ( 765 KB)(October, 2007).

9. They introduced the insane 23 page applications for individuals to apply for Persons with Disability status. They made those who already had PWD have these done, wonder how many lost disability as a result of not finding doctors and other "assessors" willing to sign on the dotted line. Or how many couldn`t find anyone to fill the paperwork out in the first place.

10. They narrowed the window of who is considered àvailable to work`
Result - people who are genuinely disabled and those who have chronic health conditions are disqualified from PWD and have time-limited benefits.

British Columbia. Office of the Ombudsman.
Last resort : improving fairness and accountability in British Columbia’s
Income Assistance Program.
(Public report no. 45 to the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia)

BC`s Badly Broken Welfare System: BC Libs created 'overly complex' maze that kept needy off rolls: ombudsman
Andrew MacLeod, 13 Apr 2009,

`...release of Ombudsman Kim Carter's Last Resort, a 121-page report that found the welfare system is "overly complex" and not designed to meet the needs of the people applying for help. Kafkaesque bureaucracy was keeping people from getting assistance, she found.`

11. They decided that parents with children over 3 should be kicked off income assistance. Too bad if they don`t have any employment skills, or prospects or daycare. Oh yeah, they also introduced a child care application form which was several pages long and more complicated to fill out than a passport. And, parents had to find someone willing to sign off for them.

12. With the Olympics coming on rapidly, the visions of public disorder, homelessness and poverty downtown had to be dealt with, so The BC Liberals slashed funding to affordable housing and then began a buying spree of buildings in the Downtown Eastside that are already housing people. They`ve funded temporary shelters.

What they are doing too little of is building affordable housing outside of the DTES and around BC and doing more to create longer-term solutions to cockroach and bedbug hotels, chaos and housing instability for a significant and ever-increasing number of BC citizens. I think we will see what their real commitment is to the people of BC once the big tents are all packed up and gone. I shudder to think of what is coming. Enjoy the Games. Reality will be upon us all too soon.

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