Working Full-Time, Living In Poverty
Melissa Gus is a First-Nations single mother living in Nanaimo who struggles to provide a comfortable living for her family.
“I work fulltime, but am still living in poverty conditions,” said Melissa who has two of her four children living at home with her. “I pay pay-cheques to pay-cheques, which causes lack of stability in our household, I feel all odds [are] against me.”
Melissa is one of over 3,000 people who filled out our Let’s Talk Families! BC survey in 2014, and struggles with many of the same issues as families across the province. Families surveyed identified their biggest challenges as income (35%), children’s care (25%), jobs or employment (24%) and caring for family members (22%).
Melissa struggles with the cost of living and the cost of healthy food, gas, clothing, child care and extra-curricular activities for her children. When her children get sick she needs to decide whether she should stay home from work or send them to school sick.
“It is unfair to the children,” said Melissa. “When they are sick sometimes I send them to school knowing they shouldn’t. It is a very difficult decision to make, it makes me feel so guilty.”
Her workplace is supportive of her commitment to her family, but she often feels torn between family and work responsibilities. She also feels like she doesn’t have enough time to take care of herself and do things she would like to do, such as exercise at the aquatic centre.
“I do not have off days for myself, to rest, or recollect myself and cope with life stresses. I get sick. All my off days are used to take care of my children when they are sick.”
Melissa feels the government isn’t doing enough to help single parents and feels they should take a closer look at how salary increase effect subsidies. When her salary increases, her child care assistance diminishes.
“When I get something good from one place, something gets taken away from somewhere else,” she said.
If you struggle with income, caring for children and creating a good work-life balance, we’d love to hear your story in the comments section below.