More Bad News for the Poor

In April 2016, the Government of Canada will stop issuing checks to Canadians and using direct deposit instead. Touted to be a good example of austerity, the result will be more than $17 million in savings for the government. Direct deposit is more secure of course and continues even as  people relocate.  Moving more to direct deposit is fine for most of us, but not for the people who can’t get a bank account.  According to the Canadian Community Reinvestment Coalition, “over 600,000 Canadians, many with low incomes, have no bank account and inadequate access to other banking services.”

Here is what will likely happen.

  • A percentage of the 600,000 will get identification and open bank accounts.   What percentage is not known.
  • The remainder will not have bank accounts and will not receive their federal cheques. My guess this amount of money involved will be a whole lot higher than the $17 million saved by the government.
  • Hundreds of thousands of low income people will experience significant hardship. Many may face the loss of housing and a deeper poverty than ever before. Health issues will increase and for those most desperate, perhaps crime will become an option for more than we care to think.
  • The economy will lose out on the commerce end of things and  likely be faced with the local costs  of increased poverty by those affected by the April 2016 change.

This seems to be an example of an austerity measure that requires further thinking and more so a sensitivity to the realities faced by folks who can’t get identification and/or open a bank account. It seems so simple for most of us, but not so for way too many of our neighbours.

The savings experienced by the federal government will result in increased pressures on organizations like Bissell Centre that work to support the poor and disadvantaged. It’s not like our organizations are looking for more problems  to help the poor overcome. Will human service organizations have to raise more money to help the government save its $17 million?

I don’t think this is a black and white issue. Clearly, for the majority of Canadians direct deposit works just fine and there are cost savings to be realized there, and I think the government should save money where it can,  but certainly there must be a way for the government to accommodate those who can’t get bank accounts (or don’t want one – it is a free country, right?). After all, I would assume if the government is issuing payments these folks are entitled to, It follows that it take what steps are reasonable to ensure their citizens can receive what is rightfully their’s.

What do you think?

Bissell Centre to Host Music Audition for the 2014 Heart of the City Music Festival!

On Sunday, April 27th from 1:00-4:00pm, Bissell Centre will host the second of two music auditions on the first floor of their WEST building (10530-96th street) as the organization gears up to help sponsor the Heart of the City Music and Art Festival!  heart-of-the-city
The first audition will take place at Boyle Street Community Services (10116-105 Avenue NW) on Saturday April 26th, from 1:00-4:00pm and everyone is welcome to join the fun at both auditions!

The auditions will be showcasing the talents of musicians hoping to perform at the festival on June 7th and 8th in Giovanni Caboto Park. The mission of the Heart of the City Music and Art Festival is to provide a free, family-friendly music and arts festival in the heart of Edmonton that promotes and supports original, local and emerging artists.

Bissell Centre was one of the groups that helped create the Heart of the City Festival way back when. Last year we were one of the sponsors of the event.

For more information or if you have any questions, please call Rylan Kafara at 780-860-6154.

Easter Party at Bissell Centre’s Childcare!

Easter Party Childcare April 17th, 2014
Easter came early for the children at Bissell Centre’s Childcare Program on Thursday, April 17th with snacks, fruit, and of course, colourful hats! The children and their parents enjoyed good food, music, and fun to celebrate the Easter holiday at Bissell Centre.

Bissell Centre’s Childcare program is an accredited daycare facility supporting 1,400 children every year in a safe, healthy, and enriching environment. A range of activities are offered to assist in developing children’s social, emotional, intellectual and cultural growth. The Early Childhood Development Program is available to all parents and guardians of newborns through six-year-old at no charge once per week.

For more information about Bissell Centre’s Early Childhood Program and other Family Support Services, please visit:  

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