A few years back when I was offered a management position within the corporate company which I had worked for over 10 years, I was ecstatic. I knew the job and I was good at it. Not only would I be able to finally have an opinion and a say, I was looking forward to the new income and patiently awaited my salary offer.
Before the job offer I was making $11.78/hour working an average of 32 hours per week and for a single mom this was tough to live on. The help I received was a daycare subsidy, rental subsidy and provincial assistance with Medical Services Plan. Without these programs I don’t see how I could have made it on such a low paying wage. I was still tired a lot and most of my time was spent commuting on that crazy, unreliable transit on a daily basis, and winter days spent freezing outside waiting for buses for hours is not awesome!
So you could imagine my elation, day dreaming about this management job that was going to save me. So I sat down and did the math: With my new manager’s salary I stood to make an extra $600 per month and for a single parent this was huge. I was super excited and my mind was racing thinking and calculating all the ways I could benefit with this new found income.
I was brutally shaken from my day dreaming mind when I found out that with my new income I would no longer qualify for my daycare subsidy, housing subsidy or my Medical Services Plan premium assistance. I would have loved to be able to pay for these things 100 percent but how could I possibly do that with less than $1000 per month? I was making less than the standard welfare rate (when you consider I paid for daycare, and transportation to work), how was this possible? The welfare system refused to help me because and I quote “ You are employed, we cannot help you.” To which I replied, “But I make less than people with one child on welfare isn’t there anything you can do?” To which I was told, “No, that is not the way it works.” So after swallowing my pride and asking for help I was turned down cold and told to figure it out.
With my new found income of an extra $600 per month I stood to take on an added expense of $900 (due to losing government help) which would put me in the hole $300 per month. How in the world does this motivate single parents to stay employed? How does this motivate us to work rather than to seek income assistance? I was extremely close to giving up, totally throwing in the towel. I did not last long (not more than a month or two) in the management position because things were just not worth it or working out financially. I now have a new job, working for the city with less hours and better pay which leaves me a fine balance between working, writing and spending much needed time with my daughter. It was extremely tough and it still is but I am working on finding ways to assist other parents too, even by doing as little as being a solid reference to help them with landing a better job.
I know that there are pretty good support systems out there for us single parents, but when it comes to the financial aspect, we hit a lot of roadblocks because many programs tend to cater to parents on income assistance and helping those who claim to have next to nothing, but there isn’t much help out there for those of us who seem to be stuck in the middle, crammed between a rock and a hard place.
I find that staying positive helps but I plan to work on changing things and if I can gain the support of my peers we can start to see some amazing changes in the way the system is run. I look forward to keeping you all posted on my efforts!
By Chelene Knight