Monday, Sept 18, 2017 



From Eat to Work

Should people have to work for their welfare? MLA says no
By Staff/Voice file


n the US, many states require people to work for welfare and food stamp program where recipients are required to clock 20 hours of employment a week to meet the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) requirements for food stamps.


Last week The Voice asked MLA Laurie Throness and MLA John Martin if welfare recipients should have to work for it such as doing community services etc.  Throness responded. Martin made his opinion about people on welfare last year .“The best form of welfare is a job” he proclaimed in the Legislature. However advocates say that “hunger is not an incentive to work: it’s a barrier.”


Keeping in mind that there are always lots of things to do in the community like trash to pick up and leaves to rake, seniors to assist. And maybe some people could gain work experience in some situations.


So why not implement a similar program in BC?


“In my experience quite a number of people on welfare are on welfare because they are not very employable.  They may be single parents who have infant children at home, or addicted to drugs or alcohol, or a person approaching retirement without a lot of skills,” wrote Throness. “However, most of those on welfare are required to have an employment plan and look for work, and can be cut off if they don't.  Certainly the rates are not high enough to give a big incentive not to work since even a minimum wage job ($11.35 per hour as of today) would earn almost triple the current welfare rate ($710 per month as of October 1).”


Throness is against the idea and says training is a better option as opposed to forcing people to do community service for their welfare.


“There is the Single Parent Employment Initiative, which we instituted when in government, which helps with expenses while a single parent goes for training in order to get a good job.  At last count about 4,000 people had found training and jobs through this program, and were off welfare.  I think this is preferable to trying to force people to do menial tasks that they won't want to do, and would require extra government resources to police,” explained Throness.




The US also puts a time limit on assistance. When asked what his thoughts about that were, Throness said he didn’t think that wasn’t a good idea and that people need to at least make an attempt to find work.


“Those on welfare (BC) have to submit a monthly report to prove that they're still in need.  Given some more vulnerable people who come into my office, if we were to cut off welfare after a certain time they would truly starve.  So no, I don't think we should put a time limit on it, though they are and should be constantly encouraged - even pushed - to find work,” said Throness.


When asked about the impact of social programs and welfare has on the economy and if printing up fiat money would help lessen that strain, Throness was well-versed in the usage of fiat money.


“A discussion about fiat money is really a philosophic one, because all money is fiat money, printed by the government.  First, the provinces have no authority to print money, only the federal government does.  Premier Aberhart of Alberta tried to do this during the dirty 30's and the federal government quickly slapped his legislation down,” said Throness adding “Government can always print more money but if they print money faster than the economy is growing, inflation can result.  Think about it, if you only had one object in a society and one dollar coin, if you printed another coin without creating another object, inflation would double.  It is true that banks create money by simply putting an entry into someone's account, but it is usually based on collateral, something of equal value that can be given for that money.  It is not 'free' money.”


“However, when it comes to welfare, it costs about $100 million per year, and our budget is $52 billion, or 520 times more than that.  Even if we were able to print new money as welfare payments, I don't think it would make an appreciable difference to the economy.”



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