An Open Letter

It’s been a couple months, I know!

We have not had anything to share in our journey related to living in our RV. We do have news, but it’s not what you may be expecting.

My MIL (Mother In-Law) has decided to move back to Alberta for a year with her boyfriend, so we have taken over her house so that she did not need to pack everything up into storage and try to find renters for a single year. In this time, we’ll keep her house running, and work on the little touches on the RV that we have learned would make life easier.

Outside of that, my job has kept me from being able to do anything other than work and spend time with my children later in the evening after I am done. It’s a thankless, and soul-sucking job, and it pays just barely above what I was making on EI, but it pays the bills. Barely.

I’ve been thinking about this part a lot as of late, and this is where my open letter to the Canadian government, and Canadian people in general comes into play. No, it’s not directed at the Liberal government we currently have in power, so die hard Conservatives, you need to relax. This is an issue that has been around since even before the Harper reign. He was no angel either. Don’t delude yourselves just because he would let you keep your guns, while stripping away every other freedom you have.

Our government classifies “poverty” as a family of four making $30,487 per year in a community with a population between 30,000 and 99,999. There is no mention on the government website of whether they mean gross or net income. If this is meant to be gross income (the money before taxes), then most Canadians are not poverty line.

However, if we discuss this wage in Net income (the money you actually take home), then most Canadians are actually below the poverty line.

However, let’s think about what that poverty line is. (Poverty Line: the estimated minimum level of income needed to secure the necessities of life.)

In laymans terms, the “poverty line” is spending all of your money on nothing more than sustaining life. Food, and shelter. Only the absolute basics to ensure you do not die. Nothing more. We are not talking about being able to have gas in your car to get to work, or the internet to apply for a job. We are talking about nothing more than making sure that at the end of the day, you have a roof over you head and food in your belly. Those other “extravagances”, such as electricity, natural gas, water, and garbage collection. Those are extra.

This roof over your head is not what you may think of, and that food in your belly? It’s not what you think either.

Let’s put this into some real world terms shall we?

Today, I spent $79.02 on the following:

  • One block of cheese (“discounted”)
  • One dozen eggs (“discounted”)
  • One four litre jug of milk
  • One 10 pack of pullups for my daughter to wear at night
  • 12 rolls of toilet paper (“discounted”)
  • One box of Cat litter
  • One bag of cat food (“discounted”)

Almost $100 for seven items. The cheese, eggs, and milk will last a few days, the pullups will hopefully last two weeks, as long as Miya wakes up in the night to pee. The toilet paper will last two, maybe three weeks, the cat food two weeks (if I give two cats a cup a day), and the litter, if I’m on top of it daily, three weeks. All in all, the food portion of this $79 bill will last less than a week.

At this soul sucking job, I make $17.25/hour. I make $17.25/hour to be yelled at, to be told how hard done by people are, how they need “Just another $5 off”. I listen to “hardships” eight hours a day, five days a week. What can I not do? I cannot tell these people who are spending $97/mth on $240 worth of services who want “just $5 more off”, that I cannot afford to take my children to see their grandparents an hours drive away, let alone TV and a phone. That I spend what I can on the internet because that is how companies require you to apply these days, and that is how you keep in touch with family and friends.

$17.25 an hour puts you above that so called “poverty line” for a family of four. Then, there’s the tax. There’s a tax for everything these days, just enough tax to make sure that you work hard to earn your money, and then work harder to get more. I know so many that work overtime to get more money. They lose life to earn just a little bit more.

When I work 40 hours a week at $17.25/hr, I make $690/week, $2760/month, and $36,018/year. So, I’m technically above the poverty line. This means that the Canadian government can happily state that neither I, nor my family are a burden on the system.

Here are the facts:

I make $17.25 an hour, which means $36,018 per year. Then, the government gets involved. I work fulltime, 42.5 hours a week (I am scheduled 8.5 hours a day because I don’t get paid for my lunch), to take home to my family, $1.071.33 every two weeks. This only counts on not needing to take sick days for my family. I do not have paid sick days. If I cannot be at work, I do not get paid. I can take a sick day, I just can’t get fired for it. Up to six day a year. If I take a seventh day, I risk getting fired.

This means that I make 2,142.66 a month, or $25,711.92 per year. For those keeping up, this is below the poverty line.

“But Randy, you get some of that back at the end of the year!”

Yea, thanks, once a year, I can get excited because the government gives me some of the money I worked for back. Yet, on occasion, I get to also pay them even more. Oh, did I mention that I pay into EI on every paycheque? I have paid into it since I was 18, and I have only taken from it twice, but I’m only allowed to take from it based on my last job? Not only that, but I’m only allowed 55% or $525 per week maximum? So, any person needing to survive in an economic decline can get half of (or less than) what they could barely survive on before

My credit rating is in the dumps, thanks to the “wonderful” United States of America destroying the dollar, and the economy, and then more recently this whole oil thing. You know, where Saudi Arabia has flooded the market in a successful attempt at destroying other oil markets, causing thousands of job losses in Canada alone.

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