Metro Workfare: A Personal Perspective

I personally see nothing to be relieved about regarding the imminent arrival of Ontario Works in Metro Toronto... even with the few purely cosmetic changes which have been made. 

It still takes the natural birthright of all human beings and turns it into something which must be earned -- from other human beings! This is a crime against nature, that people be forced for a substantial portion of their waking hours to engage in any kind of coerced activities that they may receive the bare necessities of life, while the banks reap profits which reach into the billions. While I certainly recognize a certain amount of effort is required to procure those things we require to remain alive, it was never intended that such effort take the form of being forced to engage in activities which merely serve to (materially) enrich the lives of a handful of other people. Insisting we must do so is merely pandering to the false egos and unbridled greed which are the dominant force within our society, and as such are a crime against life itself -- any government, society or institution which behaves in this manner, or condones such atrocities has in my opinion lost any right to exist, and must be stopped. 

I am in the unenviable position of having to reapply for Family Benefits next month after living on a small inheritance for the past sixteen months -- whether or not I will even qualify will be a crapshoot, and if I do, will it merely be a brief interlude before reclassification and being forced into servitude for a greatly reduced cheque? Personally I will not accept this... you will see me squatting in abandoned buildings and foraging in the garbage in Kensington Market long before you will see me complying with Workfare -- including the 'kinder and gentler' model the Province is trying to sell us now. Believe me, the only thing which has changed from the original plan is a few words on a piece of paper, and the fact that implementation has been greatly slowed (Something we as activists should be proud of, but it is no excuse for complacency). The 'new, improved' Ontario Works still means a life of servitude in exchange for a meagre existence -- how exactly those in power go about robbing us of our time, dignity and ultimately our lives is really secondary. 

To Sid Ryan, Olivia Chow and all those other privileged individuals who are claiming a 'great victory' and otherwise pretending to speak for us, I say wake up and smell the coffee! We have won nothing -- merely bought a little time. And you politicians and labour bureaucrats had nothing to do with that so quit trying to steal the credit from its rightful owners -- namely the poor, the homeless, and those grassroots activists who have stood in solidarity with them. 

April 1, 1997