We've had a number of fellow survivors stepping forward looking to share their thoughts and insights, and so 2015 plans to be a year of many voices. To start us off, here is our first Guest Blog post here at 1 in Four:
I’m not one for making New Year’s resolutions. I haven’t done it in years. Let’s be honest, most of us don’t follow through with our resolutions once February comes along. But the domestic violence that’s rocking the cities of Edmonton and Toronto this holiday season has made me stop and ask myself am I really doing enough to help end gendered violence? [Related link: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton-mass- killings-one-of-canada-s-deadliest-domestic-violence-cases-1.2887332 ] So, this year I thought I’d give some resolutions a try.
I resolve to
support the recommendations from the Put Food in the Budget discussion paper, Who Banks on Food Banks in Canada? I’ll be encouraging the provincial government to increase Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) and Ontario Works (O/W) payments by $24 per month. This small increase would enable recipients to forgo the monthly trip to their local food bank and purchase healthier foods
of their choosing instead. I will also continue to petition the provincial government to reinstate the $100 food allowance for special dietary needs. Once we get these small concessions then it’s time to ask for overall increases to reflect the true cost of living in Ontario. [Related link: http://www.putfoodinthebudget.ca/Who_Banks_on_Food_Banks_FINAL(REV).pdf ]
I resolve to continue to ask the Wynne government why sole custody parents on ODSP and O/W continue to have their child support clawed back. When social assistance payments are 30% below the poverty line for working poor individuals how can you adequately house, feed and clothe your children without the child support that you’re entitled to? The Wynne government is suggesting changing this situation so that only 50% would be clawed back, but why should any? [Related link: http://www.mcss.gov.on.ca/documents/en/mcss/social/publications/social_assistance_review_final_re port.pdf ]
I resolve to continue to advocate for the implementation of a living wage for all Canadians. [Related link: http://livingwagehamilton.ca/wp/ ]
I resolve to continue to petition the Wynne government to take Bill 14 one step further. Thanks to the Building Opportunity and Securing Our Future Act passed July 24, 2014, the Family Responsibility Office (FRO) will soon have a new system in place allowing separated parents to establish and regularly update support payments through an online portal, without going to court. The service is being designed to enable the calculation of support, based on the Child support Guidelines, using information from income tax returns with the parties’ consent. I’d like to see this service extended to include the automatic exchange of tax returns when payors refuse to do so voluntarily, even when in breach of court orders. This small change will prevent abusive ex-partners from using the court system and FRO to continue to financially and emotionally abuse their ex’s and children.
I resolve to continue to call for a national inquiry into our missing and murdered aboriginal sisters. 2015 will also be the year that I continue to support and promote the Up for Debate campaign [Related link: http://upfordebate.ca/ ] that’s asking the four federal leaders to hold a national debate dedicated solely to women’s issues before the federal election. Women make up 52% of the population in Canada and we have issues that are uniquely our own. Let’s have that national discussion about the lack of permanent full-time jobs; the need for a living wage; the glass ceiling that women face; establishing affordable universal child care; creating more affordable housing; providing micro loans so that women fleeing abuse have money for first and last month’s rent, utility deposits, and some basic furniture; creating a society where women are valued as much as men.
These resolutions may seem random and unrelated to someone who has not experience gendered violence. But, to those of us who have lived through it and managed to escape it, we know that social and financial supports need to be improved so that we’re not forced to return to our abusers.
Upon reflection, it seems to me that I may need some help fulfilling my resolutions. So, I’m extending an invitation to each and every one of you without a resolution of your own, help me fulfill one of mine. Tweet, Facebook, e-mail, snail mail or even speak with your city representatives, MPP, Premier, MP, Prime Minister, and federal candidates to let them know that you’re concerned about the growing inequality that’s permeating our communities and country. Let those with power know that we believe in, and support, a Canada that takes care of all of its citizens. Hopefully, 2015 will be that year.