Charity Labour - Ontario's secret shame

 I've noticed this "trend' of "training" opportunities" or 'employment opportunities" for people with disabilities or low income and, besides the fact the government is trying to mandatorize labour for those on disabilities regardless of education or skills, the use of 'charity" businesses that use free or cheaper labour (sometimes they pay them with food) is outrageous.

Do these programs really help or take away from paid work?

Under disguise of "helpful programs"programs' like the Inn from the Cold Catering "company" should be banned in its present model as it is not part of their mandate to begin with, let alone another way to make money from the poor via having them "learn" how to make sandwiches and the like under the disguise of teaching them a skilll from which I suppose they say they would now be able to get a job from. Meantime this business gets free labour? Hello!.

But wait you say they are doing a wonderful thing training people how to cater. Bull crap. Most jobs do that anyway at entry level, but at least you'd get PAID a wage then! One local struggling young man I know who works for a catering company was promised full time hours - something hard to get these days - but as yet the place hasn't been able to afford him enough to do so, and the kid walks to work - over 4 miles - ashamed to tell the boss he can't afford it.We don't need homeless shelters preparing food we need them for shelter emergencies only, which should be RARE, not the accepted status quo.

A friend of mine has a catering company and I'm sure he's not thrilled to lose anymore business to competition than he has to in an all ready tough market. Tough to say no to the poor shelter people, and great way to make your business appear "caring" by using such a catering "service". What a farce.

They likely got the idea from a visit I made to Montreal some years back that had a gourmet restaurant tucked in an old church in a poor part of town - Resto Pop - which uses high end discarded catered food as well as a CERTIFIED CHEF in house who teaches culinary skills. These meals are then sold for change to low income and shelter dwellers out of this converted church. And when I say change I mean 50 cents -$2 for a meal etc. and the workers were paid FULL WAGES. This was the model I spoke of when I raised the idea here at the square-table on Poverty in 2006 or so with Belinda Stronach et al, who are seemingly connected to shelters here now through the new "shrine" for single women to be filled by women from outside York Region when it opens in order to fill it, but learned long ago they are all about photo-ops and appearances than reality or caring, or if they are, are rather naive which I doubt.Unless of course the current course of governmental poverty reduction efforts continues and we will afford our aging low income single women to join their male counterparts on the streets - literally- and it will no longer be a manufactured notion as a pressing "need". A that point her Belinda House shrine is going to seem much needed!Yet by just giving people a little more to work with they could avoid being homeless most often - but they don't support that. Hmmm.Too dignified a solution I suppose.

I was speaking with another person at a business who had needed their yard cleaned up of refuse etc and was able to get a quote for about 1/4 of anyone else's. How can they do it? They use people with certain mental health disabilities on ODSP and don't pay the workers but they use it as an 'activity" or " program" for them or if they do get paid it's token. Often they have care and control of these "workers" who also live in residents. Make no mistake these "charities" are making money on them and / or saving it using them under the guise of " volunteers"when often these 'volunteers" are hungry as is and just happy to be warm and eat and if they get thrown a few bones it keeps them coming back enough that they can claim their "program" is a success. yea a success at keeping people attached to them instead of breaking free.I know men without who'da loved the job but how can he compete with almost free?
Free labour at local charities often pays them in food instead of money
As government steers a course toward forced labour on the disabled our local papers write that our social service 'professionals" think the review is going in the right direction
(I personally don't think it needs an overhaul whatsoever just a few tweaks like giving people more to work with to start with). Which professionals were these? The ones who's livelihoods depend on keeping people mired in poverty or come to their "programs" or rely on the free / cheap poor labour to conduct their "charity" business?

People who can already seek out work DO and don't need a hand or forced incentive pushing them to do it, but what will happen is " volunteering" will begin to cut into the paying jobs in hard more than it already has while working businesses who have to compete with real world overheads and don't have the sympathy card to play for funding from government bodies or the public so lest we get to cozy with this charities for all solution don't forget who the labour force will be made up of!

Tom Pearson