The Faces of Austerity (La Presse)

By Jeanne Larocque-Jeffrey, Community Sector Worker, Québec City Originally published on April 1, 2015 See original French text here:

The government has dashed even the faintest hopes of people with autism, downtrodden youth, immigrant mothers…

Mister Couillard,

I am a student and a protester. Don’t stop reading right away! I am also a worker. I have worked in the community sector for nearly seven years, sir. I have made the conscious decision to work without counting my hours, to weave my values into my job, to accept working conditions that are often less than glorious.

I come across many people and stories. From where I stand, Bill 10 has a name. As do the education cuts! In fact, come to think about it, name any one of your austerity measures and I can certainly put a face to each one of them. I can speak to you of my adults with autism who now find themselves in a considerable service blind spot. Their parents, overtaken with great fear, wonder what will happen when they die. What will become of their child? And we keep quiet because there was already so little hope, and you’ve now squashed all that was left. I can speak to you of my little “tramps” that I meet with at the youth centres. Those who are completely alone. A handful of educators are paid to be there and that’s it. Just an overworked teacher who doesn’t have the time to realize that the kid has no one to send a Mother’s Day card to.

The immigrant mother whose child clearly requires help. She doesn’t speak French. She’ll need to be accompanied to the CLSC, but the social workers are overstretched.

You haven’t created all these holes, sir. They were there, already riddling our province with inequality and injustice.

Community organizations were there to somewhat even out the imbalances. But they’re being uprooted, one by one. Soon, there will be a hefty price to pay.

I’m not talking about the long term, as it is clear that you don’t care much about what comes after your term. I’m talking about the ministerial reports in just two years time.

Pardon? Emergency rooms are overflowing with people who don’t need to be there? Who haven’t eaten in two days? There’s a lady who wants to leave her son there because she’s at the end of her tether? Oh yeah, it’s true! Two years ago, Meals on Wheels and respite care were still around…

*** Translated from the original French by Language and Dissent, a collectively-run blog supporting the anti-austerity struggle in Quebec. These are amateur translations written by volunteers; we have done our best to translate these pieces fairly and coherently, but the final texts may have their flaws. If you find any important errors in any of these texts, we would be very grateful if you would share them with us via email (languageanddissent [at] gmail [dot] com). Please read and distribute these texts in the spirit in which they were intended; that of solidarity and the sharing of information.

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