The YW is involved with many different advocacy and educational initiatives to raise awareness about homelessness, poverty and women’s issues. Please read through our available resources to find out more about the work that the YWCA Niagara Region is involved with.
Homelessness is a large issue in the Niagara Region that needs to be addressed. The Niagara Region has drafted a 10 year Housing & Homelessness Action Plan that has been recently adopted and made a priority amongst Niagara Regional Council. The vision for the plan is “a home for all” and it is broken down into four main goals:
To achieve this plan all sectors of the community need to work together and advocate for change. Your voice is needed to create change. For more info about the plan and how to get involved please visit: www.niagararegion.ca/social-services/action-plan/action-plan.aspx
One in seven (2.4 million) Canadian women live in poverty today. A newborn child, just because she happens to be born female, is more likely to grow up to be poor as an adult. The common perception that homelessness is an issue that only affects men ignores the growing percentage of women that are at risk of or experiencing homelessness. An experience of homelessness or housing instability can include being one pay cheque away from losing a home, finding shelter on a friend’s couch, accessing emergency shelter or transitional housing, or living on the streets.
Women’s homelessness is often hidden. A woman may be temporarily staying with friends or family or living in a household where she is subject to family violence. Hidden homelessness also includes situations where women pay most of their income for housing and cannot afford the other necessities of life, such as food. Women at risk of eviction or living in illegal, overcrowded or unsafe buildings are also part of the hidden homeless. Often a woman has very few choices when looking to access safe, appropriate and affordable housing. Various economic, political and social issues further hamper a single woman’s hope of finding housing:
Single mothers: 51.6% of lone parent families headed by women are poor. Financial support agreements with the non-custodial parent (usually the father) are typically either not in place or in arrears.
Senior women: 41.5% of single, widowed or divorced women over 65 are poor. The poverty rate for all senior women is 19.3%, while that for senior men is 9.5%.
Single women: 35% of single women that are on their own and under 65 live in poverty.
Women with disabilities: more women than men live with disabilities in Canada. Those aged 35-54 have an income of $17,000, 55% of what men with disabilities earn. Women with disabilities, under 35 years of age, have an average income of $13,000. Women with disabilities over the age of 55 have an average income of under $14,000. The more severe a woman’s disability the lower her income.
Aboriginal women: the average annual income of aboriginal women is $13,300, compared to $18,200 for aboriginal men, and $19,350 for non-aboriginal women. 44% of the aboriginal population living off reserve lives in poverty, but things are worse on reserve. 47% of aboriginal persons on reserve have an income of less than $10,000. Aboriginal women are more likely than aboriginal men to be trapped in low-paying jobs and face insecurities related to housing, access to services and abuse both on and off reserve.
Women of colour: 37% of women of colour are low income, compared with 19% of all women. The average annual income for a woman of colour in Canada is $16,621, almost $3000 less than the average for other women ($19,495) and almost $7,000 less than that of men of colour ($23,635). Women of colour are also over represented in precarious (part-time and temporary) work and often have to live in substandard, segregated housing. They are also more vulnerable to violence and other health risks.
Immigrant women: new immigrant women between the ages of 25-44 who have a university degree and who worked full-year, full-time earn $14,000 less than Canadian-born women. This is partly because of overt racism, but also the structural racism of lack of recognition of foreign credentials and experience. New immigrant women, suffering from abuse, may have few options to escape this, if they are financially dependent on their male relative sponsors in Canada.
Migrant women: Migrant women who are often refugees or foreign domestic workers are also particularly at risk of poverty and exploitation, as they are often forced to work in unregulated or hidden employment. Women make up the majority of migrant workers from Asia and many work here to sustain their families back home. They are paid low wages, and despite the fact that they contribute significantly to the Canadian economy, they are not entitled to many benefits such as employment insurance.
Low wage earners: In Canada it is not enough to have a job to keep you out of poverty. Most poor people do work full- or part-time. Women and youth account for 83% of Canada’s minimum wage workers. 37% of lone mothers with paid employment must raise a family on less than $10 per hour. Women on welfare, and their children:60% of single mothers rely on welfare at some point. 52% of Canada’s social assistance recipients are made up of families with children. 24% of welfare families are headed by people with some form of disability. All welfare rates in Canada are far below the poverty line, ranging from 20% to 76% below. *Statistics are from the Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women’s 2005 Fact Sheet CRIAW Fact Sheet
Poverty is a life circumstance whereby a person lacks the resources, means, choices and power needed to survive and participate in society.
The effects of poverty are quite serious:
It requires people to make painful choices between necessities, such as paying the rent or feeding the kids, going to the dentist or buying a monthly bus pass.
Ontario Works and ODSP serve approximately 857,000 Ontarians each month. In 2009–10, total provincial expenditures on social assistance were about $6.6 billion, about six per cent of the provincial budget. That’s around $7,700.00 per person per year.
All welfare rates are well below the poverty line. The highest rates are still 20% below; the lowest are 76% below the poverty line. For example, a single person on social assistance receives $599 per month for a yearly income of $7,188. With the 1% increase to benefits made in December of 2010 single recipients received an increase of $7.00 per month.
Corporate crime costs the Canadian consumer and taxpayer upwards of $30 billion annually. (http://www.dwatch.ca/camp/corpcr94.html).
In Canada, the costs of white-collar crime and fraud have been estimated in recent years at $20 billion per year. (http://salsa.athabascau.ca/learn/crjs425/)
All Ontario Works applicants, their spouses and any dependent adults included in the benefit unit must complete and sign a Participation Agreement (PA) prior to a determination of eligibility. The PA is an action-oriented plan that identifies the approved employment assistance activities the applicant or participant will undertake in order to prepare for, find and maintain employment. The initial PA is reviewed, updated and signed by the participant within 30 days of making the application for assistance. The agreement is then reviewed, updated and signed by the participant every three months or earlier if his or her circumstances have changed.
The fact is that many poor people do work. If we look at the people who are dependent on welfare:
Only 15% of families on assistance have 3 or more children. This means 85% of those on assistance have 2 or less children. That is comparable to the regional average of 1.1 children per family unit.
Massive increases in the unemployment rate have not resulted from personal inadequacy. Ontario has an unemployment rate of 8.1%. People have lost their jobs – people who have been gainfully employed all their lives. Most people are on welfare because they experienced a personal crisis that was really beyond their control.
*Source – Niagara Community Foundation