$2 million for consultants, more cuts for welfare recipients

Joanne Bernard

Joanne Bernard

Community Services Minister Joanne Bernard says she knows the province’s welfare system is “broken… None of the systems and none of the policies and the way we serve people has changed in many decades.”

That’s why her government announced last week it is forking out up to $2 million to consultants to “vision,” “design,” “transform” and “right” that system so more of the 44,000 Nova Scotians now trapped in the belly of the community services beast can live “independent of income assistance.”


Would that her department had spent five minutes — not even five cents — consulting with provincial  charities before cutting close to half a million dollars last spring from groups that provide actual assistance to those dealing with blindness, deafness, special needs children, individuals with intellectual disabilities, people with eating disorders, immigrants…

Without apparently questioning any of those helping groups — “we didn’t have much information about what they did,” Bernard said at the time — her department slashed their funding.


In the words of Kathleen Flanagan, the executive director of the Community Sector Council of Nova Scotia, a group that speaks for many charities: “these are the places where [they] can cut … These are organizations that are not rich and powerful.”

To make matters worse for those trying to get by on the scraps from the community services table, the government also slapped a two-year freeze on income assistance payments to save itself money.

So it could… hire high-priced consultants.

Don’t get me wrong. I agree with Bernard the system is a mess, and has been for years. Whenever I’ve written about some specific case of injustice within the community services umbrella, I am inevitably inundated with more similar-fact complaints than I could ever investigate or write about.

But before Bernard throws up her hands — “we do not have the expertise within our own department” — and contracts out solving the problems to consultants who’ve probably never endured them, she would do well to listen more closely to those now trapped inside the system. And those who work with them on a daily basis. And use the $2 million to provide actual assistance to help those who can to live independently, and those who can’t to live in dignity.

  1. This government is a never ending disaster, yet somehow they seem to still be ahead in the polls. Canadians got rid of a secretive, power hungry and malicious federal government, now is the time to work on the secretive, aloof and malicious NS government.


  2. Here is something for you all to think about ! Read this on the web & wish I had wrote it ! Put this into place …. It cost nothing ❓❓❓


    It’s her future she’s worried about and this is how she feels about the social welfare big government state that she’s being forced to live in! These solutions are just common sense in her opinion.

    PUT ME IN CHARGE . . .

    Put me in charge of food stamps. I’d get rid of Lone Star cards; no cash for Ding Dongs or Ho Hos, just money for 50-pound bags of rice and beans, blocks of cheese and all the powdered milk you can haul away. If you want steak and frozen pizza, then get a job.

    Put me in charge of Medicaid. We’ll test recipients for drugs, alcohol, and nicotine. If you want to use drugs, alcohol, or smoke, then get a job.

    Put me in charge of government housing.Ever live in a military barracks? You will maintain our property in a clean and good state of repair. Your “home” will be subject to inspections anytime and possessions will be inventoried. If you want a plasma TV or Xbox 360,then get a job and your own place.

    In addition, you will either present a check stub from a job each week or you will report to a “government” job. It may be cleaning the roadways of trash, painting and repairing public housing, whatever we find for you. We will sell your 22-inch rims and low profile tires and your blasting stereo and speakers and put that money toward the “common good.”

    Before you write that I’ve violated someone’s rights, realize that all of the above is voluntary. If you want our money, accept our rules. Before you say that this would be “demeaning” and ruin their “self-esteem,” consider that it wasn’t that long ago that taking someone else’s money for doing absolutely nothing was demeaning and lowered self-esteem.

    If we are expected to pay for other people’s mistakes we should at least attempt to make them learn from their bad choices! The current system rewards them for continuing to make bad choices.
    (You will love this one):
    AND, While you are on Gov’t subsistence, you no longer can VOTE! Yes, that is correct! For you to vote would be a conflict of interest.You will voluntarily remove yourself from voting while you are receiving a government welfare check! If you want to vote, then get a job.


  3. I agree with you Mr. Kimber 100%. The system is broken, and yet this system will be imported to NS First Nations reserves. I find it difficult to understand their reasoning for placing so many barriers in front of potential University students. Attending post secondary tied very closely to current labor market conditions. I had a straight A student who got accepted to a Health Professions degree but community services wouldn’t fund her so she had to attend the PCW course instead so she could get a job. Now eventually she achieved her dream of becoming a health professional with a degree but without the support of income assistance or government aid.


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