“We need government to first play their role in addressing poverty, so that communities and individuals can then take steps at our level to reduce poverty.”

At an “Ending Poverty” workshop held at the Rexdale Women’s Centre on June 17th , 18 women met to talk about the challenges they face raising families on limited incomes. Many are newcomers to Canada who spoke about the big differences between what they’re told about life in Canada, compared to the reality of a tough job market, racism and discrimination when they get here. Affordable child care is crucial – women can’t get jobs without child care, yet the low paying jobs they are able to get leave little money after child care bills are paid. Employers want Canadian work experience, so women want to volunteer to get experience. But without child care they can’t volunteer either. The jobs they are finding are temporary with layoffs. Parents end up juggling shift work so that 1 parent can take care of the children. The costs of medications for their children and school fees worry mothers who fear their children are being excluded.

What should be done? One suggestion is a 1 year adjustment period for new immigrants so they can deal with settlement issues: free childcare in their neighbourhood while mothers get re-trained so their credentials are recognized, get language upgrading, or do volunteer work to get Canadian experience.

This was the 5th workshop organized by Campaign 2000 & ISAC as part of the “Ending Poverty” project. Next steps for this Rexdale group of women include developing an advisory committee and building their advocacy skills to speak out on these issues.

One thought on “Ending Poverty Workshop – Rexdale (June 17)

  1. This may be a naive suggestion.

    What about daycare and job pooling? This is where five or six (let’s say five) women get together, and pick one to provide daycare while the other four work. At the end of the week they pool their money and all split it evenly. This way instead of five women each losing half of their pay to daycare, each would take home more money.

    In a perfect scenario the women would all be friends or members of the same community to make transportation of children and transition of child raising easier. This way the women off to work can feel good about where they are leaving their children for the day (or night) as well as having more flexibility than a usual daycare timetable, and the woman home also is performing an equal (one might say more difficult) job function. The unit would function like an expanded family in a sense.

    For groups with more children, the idea may work better with ten (or fifteen women), with two (or three) working as the home daycare. Again, no matter what wage level is attained by each member of the group, wages (and any garnishment like taxes) would be split evenly amongst all group members.

    This scenario could also work on a whole family level where four or five families get together and finance/daycare and even rent pool. For instance, four families renting in the same building at roughly the same rent level.

    The idea came to me as an offshoot of the “spend your money only at community businesses” mentality. Keep the wealth in the community and in the hands of the people instead of at government or privately run daycare institutions. Everyone prospers financially, and in feelings community unity and support.

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