These situations are policy failures says Edwardh - single mother sees nothing but wait lists.

opinionandcommentBy Emma Delmore 

November 4, 2014



“I find myself becoming more and more appreciative of what Canada does for both its people and those coming here to improve their lives or find safety for their families.

“I am a single mother, my mother was a single mother, and I am afraid of what that might mean for my own daughter one day. Being a single mom means constant stress, fear for tomorrow, and terror when looking any further into the future.

I am a single mother, my mother was a single mother, and I am afraid of what that might mean for my own daughter one day.“I want a future for my child, and I want to start building that now. My biggest issue is child care; I have had to turn down potentially good jobs because of it. When my daughter started school I searched for work, I found work as a dog groomer, than went to find subsidized child care. I was told it was wait listed, stressed and not knowing what to do I admit I let some frustration out on the worker I was dealing with at the time, I looked at her and said; What am I supposed to do, I need to work to provide for my child? The answer she gave me has become a familiar one, – Ontario Works.

“I refuse” say Delmore “to let this be my answer. The Canadian Women’s Foundation reports that “a single mother with one child can earn as little as $14,829 on Ontario Works,” – what kind of life is that. As a parent I am contributing to raising the next generation of young people, – what chance do children of single parents have to be successful Canadians and contributors to our communities under these circumstances?

“I tried finding child care independently in my community that was affordable. I made a choice I am to this day deeply ashamed of.

Joey Edwardh, Executive Director of Community Development Halton, knows this story all too well.


Joey Edwardh – one of the best advocates for the under privileged in a Region that has so much more than other parts of the province.

“This story is not new”, she said, “ it is repeated over and over again. It is impossible for this woman and her child to live in safety and dignity with access to opportunities to be full participants in the economic and social life of their community.

“This is a story of the failure of public policy to provide early education and child care for our children. We all know that a child that grows up in poverty has unequal futures as a little person of today and as an adult of tomorrow.”

“This story also demonstrates the deep poverty that our government establishes for people living on Ontario Works, Ontario’s social assistance program. A single Mom and her child living on approximately $23,038 per year are deemed poor or low income. But on Ontario Works the support received totals approximately $12,600. This is a gap of $8, 584 and leaves this woman and her child unable to meet the necessities of life. We relegate then to destitution in a community and province that has so much.”

“I chose instead to have inadequate child care up until her safety was on the line; I did so because I felt I was left without choices.

I also felt that educating myself could potentially change my situation and offer me the future I desired while also making me a better role model to my child.“Searching for a way to break a cycle and improve our situation I decided the answer might lay in gaining an education that I did not have. I spent two years at St. Lawrence College, taking a Social Service Worker course. It was something I believed in, and that I thought was a way to act as a change agent in improving situations for people that knew what it was like to feel hopeless; after all I have been there.

“I also felt that educating myself could potentially change my situation and offer me the future I desired while also making me a better role model to my child. I received excellent marks, graduated with distinction and for the first time since becoming a parent felt I had a place for me to be myself outside of being someone’s mother.

“I loved the work I was doing both in class and in the community as part of my placements until graduation day. I worked for non-profit agencies that I admired, but like many non-profits there was no room in the budget for added employees. I went to interviews that I researched hoping to improve my chances of working but those with experience got the jobs. I decided to come home to Burlington after nine years in hopes of finding better opportunities.

“I had a better support system in Burlington and saw it as a wonderful place to raise children. I had friends and could be closer to my aging grandparents and enjoy the time I have with them and build an invaluable relationship between them and my child.

Single Mom poor

For many single Mothers – it is about going without and wait listing.

“As the rules go when it comes to subsidized childcare, first you have to get the job, than the subsidy, it is unnerving to say the least. And so I did, I was offered an amazing opportunity in my new field, a chance to build upon my future, provide for my child, and make a difference in my community. Right away I looked into childcare, a before and after school program at her school Tom Thomson Public School, wait listed, then called about getting it subsidized, that too, wait listed. And again I said in frustration, what am I supposed to do? And again came the Ontario Works Speech.

“Constantly mothers are expected to make the choice between work and a better future and our children’s well being, why? I hate living in poverty, I hate what stress has done to my life and to my child’s life, I hate that time and again my sweet child has approached me with sad eyes and her piggy bank trying to make my life easier when it is my job to make her childhood wonderful and carefree.

“I believe in responsibility, both to ones work and to our families, but why does it always have to be a choice. Women make up the largest percentage of underpaid, minimum wage, part-time employees because we feel the greatest responsibility to provide and protect our families.

Beth Hudson

Beth Hudson formed INCITE – had to close it down because they could not get charitable status without which donations just did not flow.

Beth Hudson launched INCITE A Single Moms Support Group. Single moms are women-in-need; generally living at or below the poverty-line; that have been left alone to fend for themselves with little to no support.

INCITE offered a variety of programs to help these women make informed choices, learn, grow, have fun and give back with their Affordable Advice Program. INCITE had a team of over 50 volunteers, including professionals, that helped,  offering one-on-one counseling in areas of financial, legal, mental health.

INCITE had a very exciting and rewarding short tenure helping single moms, but unfortunately, after almost 4 years in operation, INCITE had to close its doors. The nail in the coffin was being declined as a charity from Ottawa. They felt, “There was not a specific need for Single Moms.”

Delmore explains that “we need help, we need more support, and we need to feel that there is hope, that our children do not just deserve better but that they have a right to better, the question is, is who out there is going to help give us a means to do this? Child care services? Employers? Government services? Maybe more Pressure on our male counterparts?

“I am sick of relying on a subsidy that is never there when it’s needed, and being unemployed or underemployed. At this point I am in heavy debt due to student loans, and I am not sure how my bills are going to be paid. I am not searching for temporary solutions but rather long term ones, and I am sure I believe that someone needs to look at the personal side of single parent issues, ask single parents what they want, and work towards making changes.that I am not the only one who is frustrated with a faulty system! I believe that someone needs to look at the personal side of single parent issues, ask single parents what they want, and work towards making changes.”

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