Monday, August 29, 2011

System Shock

The thing that never happens HAPPENED. The system saved the day!

Allow me to explain.

My client is on long-term disability from his job due to his mental illness. His wife works full-time at a fast food restaurant. They have had subsidized daycare for their 6 year old daughter for the past two years.

They received notice recently that their subsidy would end as of September, as their daughter will begin attending full day school. They asked me to call Children’s Services to advocate keeping the subsidy, as they can’t afford the full rates. Children’s Services explained to me that once a child is past the preschool age, and in full day school it is presumed that they do not require the same level of care, and the parent should be able to manage this. Apparently, this is policy. She said she had never heard of any exceptions being made. I kinda see their point, but have these people never heard of P.D. days? Winter and spring break? Summer vacation???? There are many days when the little one will not be in school.

My client is doing well in his recovery, but is not yet able to take care of his daughter by himself for extended periods. He has appointments with various therapists, doctors, clinics pretty much daily, and has difficulty staying awake for long periods of time and handling stressful situations.

So today, 3 days before they are to be cut off the Children’s Services worker calls me back. Apparently the department has just finished approving a new policy which states that approved disability leaves will continue to qualify for supports beyond preschool age, and this already applies to this family.

Hallelujah! We must have saved up some good karma or something. I was all set to do battle with the higher-ups if need be, but they pre-empted me! Any of you readers who work in or receive social services will know just how rare an event this is indeed.

Not bad for a Monday morning.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

So Long, Jack

We interrupt this regularly scheduled blog for a moment of remembrance.
Early yesterday morning Canadians lost a great leader and advocate when the Honorable Jack Layton lost his battle with cancer.

For my non-Canadian readers, a bit of background: Layton was the leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada, a perennial third (sometimes even fourth) rung party which in our recent election he elevated to Official Opposition status for the first time ever.


I had the good fortune to meet Jack, along with his MP wife Olivia Chow, and hear him speak several times at anti-Iraq war rallies in 2002-03. It was one of my first introductions to the political world as a young student, and I was encouraged, inspired and impressed by him.

Jack was a tireless crusader for many causes, and unlike many politicians it wasn't just talk.

He wrote the book on homelessness in Canada, literally, with the publication of Homelessness: The Making and Unmaking of a Crisis in 2000.

He co-founded the White Ribbon Campaign, encouraging men to take responsibility for ending violence against women.

He and Olivia showed their support for the queer community, as well as their commitment to the environment by riding their tandem bicycle in the Toronto Pride Parade each year.


Besides his causes, he was known for many things: his big personality, penchant for sing-alongs, his infamous and unmistakable moustache, wearing jeans to city hall as a city counsellor, and a sense of humour about himself.

Layton and Chow at a 1991 Star Trek Convention. (!!!)
Source: all over the interwebs.

I realize I’m at risk of rambling here, because the fact is I just can’t stop thinking about how this man’s life seems to have been cut short. I guess that’s what cancer does sometimes.

Committed to the end, Layton wrote an open letter to Canadians days before his death. Many have quoted it online already, but he must have known these closing lines would become part of his legacy:

My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.


Friday, August 19, 2011

Monday, August 15, 2011

First day back from vacay, 9:01am

This is what greets me...

Problem: My client rents a basement apartment where the landlord and his family live upstairs. They went away for more than 3 weeks and did not leave her with contact information if anything goes wrong. They also did not leave her with any way to get her mail as it is delivered to their post box (to which they have the key). She has bills due, but does not know the names of the companies, or the amount of the bills.

Solution(?): She wants me to come and hang around the post box all afternoon to intercept Canada Post and obtain her mail.* She figures they will give it to me (as opposed to her) because I'm her "worker". Sometimes I wish that pseudo-title held half as much weight as many clients seem to think it does.

*NO, I am not going to do this (as if I even had time). I'm seeing her ASAP to help sort something out, and determine if she will let me talk to the landlord when he returns. Oy.