Justice With Dignity - Committee to Remember Kimberly Rogers

Kimberly Rogers Inquest Alerts

A Time When Government Cared

By Susan Scruton, Ottawa
Featured Letter - Oct. 26, 2002
Responding to the article Program tracked welfare payments, Oct. 25.

The next time the Tory government boasts of reducing the number of welfare recipients in Ontario, please remember Kimberly Rogers. If the Tories were in charge of headstones, hers would read: Here Lies Kimberly Rogers — One Less Mouth to Feed.

Rogers was condemned for collecting student loans while on welfare — the very thing that made it possible for me to get a marketable education, get off welfare, and become "a taxpayer." Without student loans, a child-care subsidy, and affordable housing, I couldn't have done it.

I collected social assistance and student loans from 1986 to 1989. Not only was it legal, it was seen as a sign of initiative and good character. The government did the fiscally sensible and socially decent thing by providing me with the resources to get off welfare.

By contrast, the current government has demonstrated time and again that welfare recipients in Ontario should not expect help, compassion, or even indifference from their government, just open and aggressive hostility. This government stigmatizes, degrades, bullies and punishes welfare recipients, somehow believing that they can simply choose another way to live.

I know from experience that people need more, not less, in order to extricate themselves from poverty — more money, more resources, more support, more reason to hope and believe and try.

I borrowed money for an education while on social assistance, just like Rogers. I was applauded, she was criminalized. I escaped poverty, she died trying. I thank my lucky stars I was poor in the '80s and not today.

Susan Scruton, Ottawa




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