Friday, July 18, 2014

The Financial Burdens of Living in the Maritimes

Exactly a year ago, my husband was offered a term teaching contract in Nova Scotia. He had spent the previous few years supply teaching and working full-time at a call centre in New Brunswick, so we took the chance that the term might lead to a permanent contract, and packed up our family and headed to Nova Scotia. It was a big risk, selling our house, leaving our friends and family...but we had struggled for years and felt this was our best chance in him finally having a career.

Last month, he had to apply for his own job, since it was posted this year as a permanent position, and compete with other applicants. Thankfully, he was the most qualified and finally earned a spot as a permanent teacher. Relief.

Relief for him, and financially for our family, but now what do I do? Nova Scotia is an expensive province. Gas costs more, food costs more, housing costs more and daycare costs more. So, I am stuck with a major dilemma. Do I put my three kids in daycare, work for close to minimum wage and possibly clear $200 a month? Or do I work evenings, avoid daycare, but still only work for close to minimum wage and miss evenings with my family five times a week? Neither option is ideal...far from it.

I can't help but feel that we live in a system that sets us up to fail. The Universal Childcare Benefit was created to help offset daycare expense, but why then is it paid out to each and every family, even those who do not use or require daycare? Why is it not put directly into the daycares, subsidizing the expense for those who require the service?

With one decent income, my husband's, and one pathetic one, mine, we pay our basic bills and can afford our groceries, but there is nothing left for debt repayment. Nothing left to pay off my husband's student loans and certainly nothing left for anything "fun". How are people surviving financially here? Oh that's right...they're not. They're all moving out West.

Unless you're a doctor, dentist, lawyer, or something similarly paid, you don't stand a chance of thriving financially in the Maritimes. Your life will be full in many ways by living here, but you need money to sustain that life.

What a sad, sad thing that the government cares so little about its people that they make minimum wage so low that no viable life is possible. It's almost as if they want us to depend on them more and end up on social assistance and employment insurance. I made more money on maternity leave than I can working 40 hours a week and paying out daycare. That is a sad statement. No wonder some women keep popping out babies. The more babies you have, the more funding the government gives you. They are more interested in the resulting pay cheque than in the resulting human being. Heart breaking, but true.

For the average, hard working person, life is financially very difficult. No wonder many people on social assistance aren't motivated to go back to work. They make more out of work. I struggle processing that a person can make more by doing nothing than by working themselves ragged. What kind of system is this?!

I know I am not alone in my frustrations. Many of my friends are in the same situation. Some are choosing to head out West, others are trying to tough it out here as long as they can bare it...but eventually, will we all have to abandon the Maritimes? What can be done to fix this mess? A new Prime Minister would probably be a good start, but then what?

I would love to hear your solution to this giant mess. Comment welcomed!

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