Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Phonecall with my Worker re: Childcare

I phone up my worker because I am concerned about how I am going to get from point a to point b - being on welfare to getting childcare so I can GET A JOB. I read to Nadine about the Policy Directives regarding Childcare Deductions in Ontario Works.

Part VI, Section 49 (1) of Regulation 134/98 states:

49. (1) The following rules apply with respect to the treatment of earnings:
1. The sum of the total amount of gross monthly income from employment, the amounts paid
under a training program and net monthly income as determined by the administrator from
an interest in or operation of a business shall be reduced by, …
iv. child care expenses actually incurred for each dependent child and not
otherwise reimbursed or subject to reimbursement up to the maximum
amounts provided in paragraph 2 if,

A. the child care expenses are necessary to permit a
recipient, spouse or same-sex partner included in the
benefit unit or a dependent adult to be employed or to
participate in an employment assistance activity...

After reading this to my worker since she wasn't familiar with the clause she said, "So, what's your question?" I went on to explain to her yet again, that I need childcare assistance. She then replied to me with "You need to be in a employment program or going to school for Ontario Works to cover your childcare." I explained to her that I want to get a job and I cannot get a job because I do not have childcare. I am registered with a temporary staffing agency and they can't send me out to about 98% of the jobs they have because I cannot work full-time hours due to lack of childcare. My worker replies with "If you are employed, we won't help with childcare. Ontario Works will only help with childcare if you are going to school, in an employment program or doing community work. If I put in a request now you will be denied. Do you want to? Do you want me to put in a request? It'll come back denied." I tell her I want to put in a request.

I ask her about those employment programs, what they are and if she can refer me to one. Nadine tells me to come into the office there are postings on the boards there. I ask her again if OW have any employment programs she can refer me to and she says, "Come into the office and see one of the people at the front" She repeats to me as she has many times before, "You are to look for employment on your own.". I have been wondering what exactly she means by this. That no support or service is provided to me even though, I might add, I am new to this community? I suppose I will check out those services at the office, but until then, I suppose I am confounded as to why clients are not referred to such services.

Truth is, I don't really need employment services, but I am willing to go if it gets me some childcare. "I really just want to get a job..." I tell Nadine. "You won't be eligible for childcare assistance if you are employed. You need to contact Children's Services" She repeats herself while interrupting me as she has done already in our conversation. I ask her to listen to me, and let me finish what I am saying so I can explain my predicament. "I don't understand how I am expected to accept a full-time job if I don't have childcare already in place."

Now, I am certain that anyone with a child will understand what I am putting across here. One cannot start a job and then afterwards acquire the necessary childcare. What is one to tell a prospective employer for a start date or hours available? Childcare first, then acquisition of employment, is the logical sequence. Securing childcare is hard enough, it is not as if it can be done within hours of accepting a new position. The Childcare Services subsidy is definitely only effective if one has proof of employment and reliant on an actual subsidy approved facility having an opening. She knows this, as she pointed that out to me the first time I asked about childcare on December 7th, when we first met.

However, what's my worker's response to this? "I have many clients who work and they manage to figure it out" I am a bit taken aback by this comment as it in no way helps me. In fact, I had to hold myself back from responding with "No thanks to you, I am sure." Instead I responded with "So, can you explain to me how to do that? I want to start working. How can I get help with childcare in the interim so I can start working? I am registering with temp staffing agencies for contract work and they would love to give me work but I can't accept it... " I think this finally hits home with her because she explains to me then, "Yes, Ontario Works will pay for childcare until the subsidy comes through." Finally, a breakthrough. She explains to me that I need to give her the name of the childcare provider and the cost.

I am relieved. This is all I wanted to hear. I say, "Thank you! Why didn't you explain this to me before?" Nadine says "I did. The first day I explained this to you."


"No you didn't, you said..." I stop myself. I know that I wouldn't be worried about childcare, or having this discussion if she had mentioned this was available to me. I decide I am not going to have a back and forth yes i did-no you didn't with her.

I then tell her that the PLASP program at my child's school does not have an opening for after-school and I ask her if she they have a list or database or know of an agency that can help me find a provider. She states quite flatly, "N o." She adds that Ontario Works doesn't have a list and that, "You will have to do the research on your own." Thus, I am.

This experience make me wonder though, with all this obfuscation and reluctance to actually socially assist people, how does one make that leap effectively from welfare to self-care?

Next time on Mother Lode: What exactly is the role of the Ontario Works Case Administrator (worker)?


Ron Payne said...

What you experienced it the real corruption of Ontario Works.
The worker denies that the funds exist, and then when pressured by your insistence, she comes up with the money you were entitled to in the beginning.
And it was all your fault.

Single Mom said...

Yes, I am not certain why the denial of of funding that applies to clients is allowed. If a client needs something it should be readily recommended. If there needs to be further verification, then do it after. It's a no-brainer that people on welfare are in need. Especially for the very things that can help to acquire employment, i.e: childcare, transportation, adequate clothing.

Ron Payne said...

My question to you and to myself is how do they get away with the callous and unjust manner that they approach their clients with?
The answer is very simple. Because they can.
If the worker doesn't especially like you, they will simply ignore you. This means things like no return phone calls, no decision letters and so on.
If the worker really doesn't like you they will do anything in their power to harass, intimidate and frustrate you into giving up and going away.
If the worker does like you they will give you any of the benefits that you ask for. This is only if the worker is aware of the benefits requested. Here is an interesting problem. A lot of the workers are not aware of benefits that are available. This even includes some of the excellent workers and even there supervisors.
You must document everything.
You must tape record ever thing.
You must video record ever thing.
The only remedy to this problem is to sue. You can only sue if you can prove "Bad Faith" and you my friend are on the right track.
It is called willful blindness or willful deceit.

Ron Payne
Welfare Legal

Single Mom said...

First, I would like to thank you for showing interest in what I am writing. I see you have a history of working for social justice. That is very admirable. I appreciate your good advice. Willful blindness or willful deceit, you say? The is epidemic in the system. In fact they use tactics that would be considered unconscionable under any other legal contract. Tactics such as withholding information regarding their follow up procedures and switching case workers at crucial times without warning. My experience in London was so atrocious that by the end of it when I was moving to Mississauga, I had to deal solely with the supervisor! I am guessing she wasn't too happy about that! I wish there was more transparency when dealing with OW because it is baffling how some workers can manage to be kind and informative and try to get all the help they can for the client, and others are bent on ignoring the clients needs and looking for clues of any possible fraud when, through omission, they are in a sense defrauding the client.

Ron Payne said...

Where/how did you learn of Part VI, Section 49 (1) of Regulation 134/98 states?

Your blog “Phonecall with my worker re; Childcare” inspired me to rethink and expand on my response to it, dated Feb 17 08. It can be seen at I have sent this as a letter to the Premier of Ontario and the Minister of Community and Social Services, asking for a responce

You may want to post something on the blog above, maybe your “Phonecall with my worker re; Childcare” or something else.

Blogs can be a very important tool too get the truth/facts out in the publics eye. Your blog is one of the best I have seen to date that talks about the reality of trying to survive on benefits.

When will we be seeing “What exactly is the role of the Ontario Works Case Administrator (worker)”?

Ron Payne said...

Media Release

The Evidence Is In

Poverty’s Smoke and Mirrors, Part 2

To see part 1

The article above went out to the main media and approximately 65 other print news media starting September 21 2008. It was also put on the World Wide Web.

To my knowledge it was only printed in 3 Ontario news papers in the Letters to the Editor section.
1) Hamilton’s, Mountain News
2) Hamilton’s, Stoney Creek News
3) London’s, The London Free Press

Thank you to these three papers for caring enough about people that live in poverty to print this article.

As of today November 06 2008 the Ontario government has only posted old outdated directives dated Sept 2001.

Obviously these directives are of no use to anyone simply because of the fact they are outdated and the ministry is now using the July 2008 up to date directives but has not shared them with the public.

You may remember Welfare Legal was so offended by this abuse we offered $100.00 to anyone that could produce a copy of the latest Ontario Works directive 7.4.

As of this date no one has collected the $100.00. Welfare Legal now has a copy of the new directives that the government has not shared.

We take the position that this is the most serious kind of abuse by our government to implement new policies but not allow those most in need to have access to them. The only reason the government has given for this abuse is that the Ontario Government has not prepared a French version of these directives.

This is a Human Rights violation, among others, to implement a secrete version of the directives and not share them with the public and not to have a French version available.

As we have stated before the Ontario government has in fact been cutting the benefits of Ontario Works, (OW) and the Ontario Disability Support Program, (ODSP) recipients without letting the general public aware of these cuts.

The latest cuts that have become public are the cuts to benefits to grandparents that are caring for their own grandchildren, who many had, have been apprehended by the Children’s Aid Society (CAS). The grand parent’s complaints were heard loud and clear the government seems to have withdrawn these policy changes.

The new directive 7.4 and others shows more cuts that the public is not aware of yet.

One of these cuts shows that the Ontario government no longer supports volunteering here in Ontario. In the old outdated directives dated September 2001, the government used to give a small benefit to those recipients that had to do volunteer work as a condition of eligibility for OW. These cuts also affect those who wish to do volunteer work and are disabled on ODSP as well.
Are volunteers no longer needed here in Ontario?

These cuts which are ongoing, have been made to help pay for the meager increases to OW and ODSP of 2%. They are also part of the government’s bigger plan, to upload the cost of OW and ODSP from the municipality to the province and to pay for its poverty reduction strategy.

At the end of the day the government will save millions of dollars in benefits that the former Mike Harris Tories said people on OW and ODSP were entitled to. Does this make sense to anyone?

This story gets much, much worse. It turns out that the aboriginal community in Ontario had the foresight not to allow its members to be subjected to the policies and procedures put in place by the Mike Harris government, when they bought the draconian computer program from Anderson Consulting now Accenture. The cost of that program was $400,000.00 and rising. This program was designed to cut people off of benefits automatically, with no human contact. There seems to be 2 classes of people being governed differently here, and what are the costs?

It would seem they were allowed to have their own computer program made up by a private company called AD Morrison.

A private professional researcher contacted Welfare Legal in an attempt to collect the $100.00 offered for the latest Ontario Works directive 7.4 and alerted us to a Pandora’s Box. You will see on the home page of AD Morrison’s site there is a link to “Latest Directives”. This link contained a third set of OW directives that was not available to the general public.

After Welfare Legal contacted the ministry to see if this in fact was the latest and new directive 7.4, the ministry contacted us with a reply that had nothing to do with our request. Then out of the blue this link was taken of the site.

After gathering all the evidence we soon learned that the Ontario government had not been keeping these new directive from the public since July 2008, they had in fact been hiding them starting in December 2005 and no one new about it. At least no one that has come forward so far.

There has been no response from any legal clinic or private paralegal in Ontario showing that they new about this breach of the Human Rights Code by our provincial government. If anyone was aware of this why didn’t they take it to the media? Does nobody care about this abuse? Does nobody care about eliminating poverty?

It is interesting to note that the government has even changed the directive numbers to confuse us even more once we were allowed to become aware of them.

September 2001 shows directive 31.0, the out dated benefits that we all are aware of.

December 2005 shows

July 2008 shows

For a copy of these directives

How can the Ontario government say it is attempting to alleviate poverty when it is secretly cutting the benefits of those most in need? (Reverse Robin Hood)

Ron Payne
Welfare Legal
Hamilton, Ontario
Phone 905-253-0205