Yellowknife woman slams income assistance program
Miranda Currie says staff repeatedly lost her paperwork and made her travel back and forth to office
A Yellowknife woman says staff administering income assistance need to do more to support vulnerable people.
Last week, the federal auditor general came out with a report which criticized income support for not delivering programs properly and not supporting clients.
Miranda Currie is calling for changes.
Currie once kite-skied solo across Great Slave Lake and she worked as a river and dogsled guide.
She suffered a brain injury 18 months ago which has affected her ability to work, walk and even talk.
"Being on this side of the coin is so enlightening, you just don't imagine what people go through," she said.
Currie is on disability assistance.
"You’re just devoting 100 per cent of your effort trying to get better and then you need to do all this other stuff to just meet your basic needs, and it's so overwhelming," she said.
She says income support has repeatedly lost her paperwork and made her travel back and forth to the office.
"People at income support should be advocates for you, not gatekeepers. A change in that attitude. To say ‘hi we recognized you're in a vulnerable place and we're here to help you’. Not ‘oh we think you're trying to screw the system, we don't want you to’," she said.
Currie said she’s trying to get her life back on track. But this winter, she went three days without heat because income support didn't process a payment and didn't respond to her calls.
"You want to be, ‘I'm strong, I'm tough’, but it's like –17 in my house. This is really not that great."
This week, Weledeh MLA Bob Bromley read a poem Currie wrote about her struggles in the legislative assembly.
Currie says staff need more training to deal with stressful situations and a little more empathy.
"We're not a number, we're vulnerable and you have the power to help us," she said.
The minister responsible for income assistance, Jackson Lafferty, admits there is work to be done, and hopes to add an outreach worker specifically for seniors and people with disabilities.
"Having a person reach out to them, work with them, instead of expecting them to go to our office, which I don't support... I support an individual working within our shop to work closely with them because we know their condition and we shouldn't be asking them to — whether it be walking in –40 or if they can't walk, then we shouldn't be expecting them to walk," said Lafferty.