ODSP recipient, anti-poverty advocate: “The attitude that you must be ‘faking it’ is incredibly dehumanizing”

This photo is from the Ontario Landlord's Association urging landlords to call a snitch line if they suspect their tenants to be committing welfare "fraud." This graphic speaks to the widely held belief that social assistance recipients are somehow taking the "easy way out," that social assistance recipients are "gaming the system" and that they must be "faking it" etc.

Earlier this month, the Hamilton Community Foundation released its annual Vital Signs report, a “community check-up…that measures the vitality of our communities and identifies significant trends in a range of areas critical to quality of life.” The report found, among other things, that in several Hamilton neighbourhoods, child poverty rates exceed 50%, and that 18,432 people used Hamilton food banks in the month of March 2011, a number that has risen from pre-recession levels. On today’s episode of the HJRC, we focus on one specific finding: that the social assistance caseload in Hamilton is the highest it has been in a decade. Despite the fact that the link between poverty and ill-health is well established, individuals on social assistance continue to face immense hostility from people (including health professionals) who understand social assistance to be a “free-ride,” and its recipients to be “lazy,” “free-loaders” etc. To dispel these myths, HJR chats with Laura, a member of the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction and an advocate who speaks about her experiences living on Ontario Disability and living with chronic illness.

[audio http://www.radio4all.net/files/nbozinoff@gmail.com/4298-1-HJRC_2001-10-24.mp3 ]
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