Poverty is a complex issue, but why?

As a lone parent in poverty I often wonder why is poverty such a complex issue?

I think of myself as a Human that has rights and responsibilities just like other Londoners.  But I keep thinking to myself “are others without lived experience making things more complicated for people struggling just to survive? Or is their experience different than mine?”.

I am not interested in making things more difficult for anyone.  As stated I am a lone parent but the difference is that I am a male.  When I hear the bureaucrats talking about lone parents they continually speak of One Gender in a contextual way to raise awareness which I find disheartening because it places a higher emphasize on one over the other in a world that is concerned about equality issues.

I understand women make up a higher percentage of those in the position of being a lone parent and I am not discounting that; however when comparing apples to apples the issues faced in poverty are the same challenges that both genders have to deal with and the struggle is real.  The lack of money.

I look at the Poverty Panel’s recommendation of 2.25 (“advocate for increased enforcement of child support payments”) and it strikes me as something that can cause greater hardships and barriers for individuals in poverty while looking at the issue with a multifaceted gender lens.  However it seems to me that this issue has been viewed at using only one gender lens by the authors of the report.  What benefit is it to advocate for enforcement of child support when it could cause an individual in poverty greater harm. From losing their license and ability to look for work if they have a vehicle to being incarcerated.  The later would further limit a persons ability to find employment and thus keeping a person in poverty.  The only thing that enforcement causes for a person in poverty is to become more broken both financially and mentally especially if sent to jail.  It is a no win situation.  Let us not forget about the working poor who also live paycheck to paycheck and classified as living in poverty.

I hate to break it to you but when you lose your job and enter poverty it is not noticed by the family responsibility office unless there is a change made before the Courts.  Changes do not happen over night.  You can not pick up the phone and report that you have no money or source of income.  As many of us know the Family Court System can be slow and cumbersome as well as costly.  Child support orders owed can accumulate rapidly while a person has no ability to pay child support after going on Ontario Works or they waiting for orders to be changed.  Sadly by that time a person in poverty is already having to deal with enforcement actions being taken against them which only causes greater financial hardships especially if their vehicle is impounded and there is a strong possibility that the vehicle will never be recovered as a person in poverty has no money to pay for impound expenses.  If the person is trying to get out of poverty and using the vehicle after finding employment it is more then likely they would again be out of a job after losing their ability to drive and own a vehicle.

This creates barriers and I will explain why I personally believe this.  I am a male victim of domestic violence by a woman.  I would rather not have to deal with that individual under any circumstances and I believe women would feel the same way if they had to face their abuser and the fear it brings as it prolongs the torment of someone trying to move on with their life and recover.

I feel that section 2.25 of the poverty recommendations creates a “stigma” in my talking to people around the city I heard things like “it’s good that those deadbeat dads will have to pay up”  Hey wait a minute wasn’t the idea of the Poverty Panel to eliminate stigmas involving poverty?  To dispel this inaccuracy being a male lone parent I mention that it is not only men but women that may be required to child pay support resulting in a confused look met with silence. Awkward

I think this section of the Poverty Panel’s recommendations is already handled well by the family responsibility office.  I do know when applying for Ontario Works they require information especially that of lone parents. They need to know who the other parent is and their pertinent information as well as court orders.  If a support order is not part of the court order given, OW will direct clients to FRO staff who will then start the legal process.  It is then out of the hands of the individual at this point because it is all required in order to receive OW being a lone parent.  Any enforcement action is handled by a group of agencies not he person who applied for OW just trying to survive and feed their child.  If a person is being intimidated, threatened or what have you then there is legal remedies within the current framework of society that can provide safety and security including restraining orders, no contact orders the list goes on.

This of course is my two cents.  Make that a nickel as pennies are obsolete but honestly should we be creating further hardships and stigmas for those in poverty ?  It is a complex issue but why are some trying to further complicate the lives of those already struggling ?

I will end this for now but I ask that you think critically of the issues presented and the barriers.

Signed – Anonymous