By Alia El-Tayeb

The problem of structural violence hits home as well, in Canada. Take into account the Ontario Works system, where families in financial need rely on government funds to get by. The system creates dependence because of the policies in place which do not allow recipients to make earn more than a certain amount of money on their own. If they do, the or they will be taken off assistance. People fear over-earning when they are on assistance because, should they be cut off from assistance, often the amount of money they earn will be nowhere close enough to what is needed to support themselves or their families.


The social assistance system is flawed because while people are encouraged to find means of supporting themselves without government money, they will most likely never be able to find a way to earn enough to be self-sufficient. So, while we look to impoverished countries that experience this kind of institutionalized structural violence, we don’t realize that the problem exists at home too. And if this issue is ever brought to light, it will irrevocably change our perspective on both the Social Assistance system and the people it serves.

What do you think?
What kinds of impact does this flaw in social assistance have?
Do you agree that this is a form of structural violence?

About the Author:
Alia El Tayeb co-coordinates the National Youth Advisory Board for the Voices project. She is a student at Western University in London, ON,  and a youth-community developer for the City of London and the Boys and Girls Club. Alia believes in the importance of engaging youth in ways that allow young people to tell their stories.

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