Putting Employment In Its Place


A homeless person sleeping in front of a store at University and King in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. Perhaps if we put more emphasis on employment placement instead of assistance, scenes like this would not be so common. Picture taken by David Alan Gay, with permission given to use this image provided credit is given.


“You know, if you weren’t so hostile towards employment assistance centers, you would be working right now. Instead, you are crying about your unemployment and homelessness on your blog”

-from troll (who won’t be named) after watching a video of mine on YouTube.

Comments like the above just goes to show how much some individuals understand the purpose of employment assistance centres and the causes of unemployment. To correct the above individual, employment centres do not find you a job. They help you find a job. There’s a difference: I have my social network (most of which is in Toronto and very large) helping me find a job, but it does not mean they will get me a job. I discuss what does determine success in getting a job in a previous post. 

In addition, criticizing how badly our government serves us  does not (and should not) cause unemployment. In fact, speaking one’s mind is a fundamental right in Canada. To think one has to give up that right in order to find work would be appalling.

Believe me, there is plenty to criticize about government services, and it is no wonder some people who have to deal with the agents of government get pissed off.

I’m at the House of Friendship (a men’s shelter) at the moment and my caseworker and I are trying to get me a place through community housing. It’s a bureaucratic nightmare. In addition to a lengthy waiting list, here’s a list of some of the things I must provide in addition to my filled out application which was 13 pages long:

Comunnity Housing 4th Page

If your eyes are glazing over just from reading this document, that’s fine. My mind nearly shut down trying to read through this list.

It gets worse. Take a look at the Employment Related Income and Self-Employment Income sections. Community Housing will only accept income sources that generate the following documents above. This means any Craigslist and Kijiji ad jobs that I have done cannot be submitted as valid income. They don’t generate a pay stub. They don’t require a Statement of Business form. They do not require a Employment Verification Form.

I have income that has to be declared….yet does not count.

I tried to find a compromise with my contact at the Region of Waterloo Community Centre and she was pretty point blank in her Email reply.

“Since rent for Community Housing is based on your household’s income, you will not be offered housing until you can prove you have a source of income as stated in the ‘Guide to Applying for Community Housing’.”

In other words, if I can’t prove the income, I’m really not working. If I am not working, I am not eligible for housing assistance, even though I am in need of housing assistance because

(a) I am in a shelter (because I cannot afford a place to stay) and

(b) my shelter caseworker has elevated my need for housing to emergency status.

This also means I can’t transition from the shelter without community housing. This is REALLY bad: shelters only house people temporarily. I could be told to go after a set period of time without a place to go to.

The maddening thing about all of this is the inconsistency across government services. I pay taxes on any income I generate through Kijiji and Craigslist jobs by simply printing off the Emails that contain both the amount and the name of the person I worked for and give them to my tax preparer. I can’t do the same thing for community housing. Why? Why is it allowed for one aspect of government but not another?

Could it be because when it comes to taking tax revenues from me, it’s not a problem, but when I ask for assistance that takes tax revenue from the government, it’s a different story?

All right then, how about this: if only income sources that come from “real jobs” (my quotes) are allowed, why not include in the mechanics of obtaining community housing the needed income that does generate these documents?

In other words, let’s stop with the BS that is employment assistance and get on with the “real job” (pun most definitely intended) of employment placement for the homeless.

Just a thought.

Thanks for reading!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s