“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.