It was August 2018. I met my partner and wanted to move in with them but New Brunswick’s Household Income Policy has made that impossible.
Two years after aging out of foster care, I started receiving social assistance. I have borderline personality disorder, which involves an unstable sense of self and moods and suicidal behaviors. I also experience anxiety and depression, so you can imagine how hard it has been living on my own with all my symptoms.
I was very lonely with no parents and very little support. So when I met my partner I urgently wanted to live with them. But when I learned that I would lose my income assistance, I got worried and had a panic attack because my mental disabilities prevent me from having and keeping a steady job.
It made my decision of not being lonely and living with my partner and their parents even harder. I lost my income due to the Household Income Policy that counts the income of all people as an economic unit to determine whether recipients qualify for income assistance.
To be clear, my partner and their parents make income but I do not. I don’t get any of their income and I don’t make my partner pay for my medications or my food. However, they feel forced too, but why should they? I feel like I should be responsible for spending for my own needs but the Household Income Policy makes me feel even more incapable. I need my medication but I need to not be alone.
Choosing love has been hard for me over the three years I’ve been with my partner. I can’t keep a stable job and get the funds we need to move out and live together, which has been a goal of ours. I can’t get better because I have no money to get my medication that I need or therapy. I’m stuck in the house 24/7 with no money even for transportation. I can’t even visit my friends on my own, who are the only people I have in my life that mean a lot to me besides my partner.
All these factors make handling my mental disabilities even harder than I feel like it should be.
I feel like the Household Income Policy discriminates against the people who use it and need it most. Why is the government counting the income of my whole household when I’m the one who needs the funds? Maybe if I had income support, I could finally feel like I’m contributing to my makeshift family and maybe my depression would not be so bad. If I had the income I needed, I would feel supported by the government instead of feeling tossed aside like I’ve always felt since I was a child.
Kai Mallalley is an aspiring changemaker born and raised in Fredericton.