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In praise of city hiring program for street people

I have written about this before but thought it was time for an update.

If you want to help the homeless, street people, addicts, the poor, the disabled and even the elderly, one big thing you can do is to provide them with work. Hopefully with meaningful, productive and constructive jobs that will help them, society and the nation.

So, I was pleased to learn the city now has a program in place to hire up to eight street people on a daily basis to pick up litter. It gives them good honest pay for good honest work. Not only will it make them feel better, it will help the city look better.

Now, there are all kinds of work that could be created for people who aren’t keen on a nine-to-five office job or who have a limited education. They can pick up litter, remove dead trees and brush from our so called “green” spaces, they can tend gardens, cut grass, rake leave, sort out stuff at the dump or even get into some of the arts and crafts.

There are lots of jobs people could do if they were given the opportunity, taught a few skills and given the proper incentives. Every community I have ever been to could use a little care and maintenance. So, every community should have a few people who can do handyman, or handywoman, work to keep the place looking clean and pretty.

But here's the problem as I see it. Governments are run by a bunch of overpaid bureaucrats, administrators and civil servants who are all university graduates and their idea of creating new jobs is to hire other university graduates.

Some government offices remind me of student lounges at universities. People wander in and out of the office as they please, they do what they want, they exchange emails, hold meetings and debate issues but I believe they are accomplishing very little.

Mostly, they're slowing down people doing real work down with meaningless rules, regulations, paper work and BS. One time in the bush, we got to talking about this and decided some government departments are little more than glorified welfare systems for people with PhDs. For what it costs to keep one of them out of the rain, you could easily employ dozens of people, who for whatever reason, have a limited education and actually get something done and accomplished.

So, let’s stop wasting all that money and figure out how to employ people at all levels of society in meaningful and productive ways. Cleaning up the environment of litter is a good start. Sorting garbage into what can be salvaged, recycled and composted would be another. Then taking the stuff that can be reused and turning it into useful products would also employ a number of people. I really do believe that our garbage dumps are a cornucopia of resources and employment just waiting to be tapped into.

Providing and creating jobs is a must if we want to end the hopelessness, despair and high suicide rates in the more isolated communities. And it can be done. People and governments just need to think in a different way and try things out. Who knows, maybe if some of of those people with PhDs who work for the government put their brilliant minds to work at solving real problems, something might happen.

Here is an even better idea. If the people in the capital moved to the communities they administered, I bet that might give their problem-solving talents a real jolt and they might even come up with a few solutions and learn a few things. Knowledge is power after all.

So I applaud the City of Yellowknife for offering employment to some of the street people and I hope the territorial and federal governments do the same. Maybe we should have a quota system. For every PhD hired by the government, they have to hire a homeless person. Who knows it might work out well.