Special Report

Ottawa's new face of working poor

CBC News features a new group of residents in Ottawa and Gatineau, Que., in deep levels of debt, which is caused in part by public service job cuts and the resulting hit to the local economy.
Listen to three examples of Ottawa's nouveau poor, a new group of struggling residents. 2:06

CBC News features a two-income family debating bankruptcy, struggling public servants in temporary and contract work and the growing number of people who are using food banks.

Judy Trinh. (CBC)

Starting at 5 p.m. on CBC TV News, Judy Trinh looks at a new group of people who are working poor.

These are examples of a new group of Ottawa residents, mostly middle class, who are struggling to make ends meet and some who can't find enough work to pay the bills.

Credit counsellor Joel Grisé said Ottawa was able to thrive through the last recession.

But the federal public service job cuts that came from the 2012 budget have put a financial crunch on many families who used to have a more stable financial footing.

Also, temporary government workers who obtain employment through staffing agencies are being paid less.

The people who use the Ottawa Food Bank are also changing. Many new families are dipping into the charitable food sector to make ends meet.

The Ottawa Food Bank now serves about 48,000 people a month, with almost two of every five users being children.

There is an eight-per-cent increase in clients in 2012 with a spike expected in the winter months due to higher bills for such things as heat and hydro.

Joel Grisé with K3C Credit Counselling says he is seeing an increasing number of clients since federal job cuts hit Ottawa hard. (CBC)

As for local bankruptcy statistics, the Ottawa-Gatineau region ranks fourth in the country behind Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal in terms of total bankruptcies as of July 1.

Joel Grisé, a manager at the non-profit group K3C Credit Counselling, also said his agency saw 600 bankruptcies last year and he believes that number is rising.

His office, which sees about 15 clients per day, currently has a weeklong wait list to book appointments for credit help.