Canada

Toronto: human beings cannot be ‘seasonally adjusted’

ANGELA FERRANTE January 24 1977
Canada

Toronto: human beings cannot be ‘seasonally adjusted’

ANGELA FERRANTE January 24 1977

Toronto: human beings cannot be ‘seasonally adjusted’

Canada

Every winter for the past 24 years, construction laborer Augusto De Bellis has gone on unemployment insurance— sometimes for up to six months—waiting patiently for the ground to thaw and another season of work to begin. And every winter the 51-year-old Italian immigrant has to scramble for new ways to make ends meet while inflation, like his four sons, keeps growing. As one of 78,000 workers on the Toronto uic rolls, he has come to a dismal conclusion: “Ten years ago, uic gave me $33 a week but I could pay for everything—the oil, the food. Now I get $117 and I can’t make out.”

Fortunately, as is the case with a growing number of Toronto families, De Bellis can rely during those lean months on the second income brought in by his wife, Anna, 43, a cosmetics factory worker. The two years Anna had to stay home because of back problems were the most difficult financially for the family. She still winces everytime she shifts

position, but she insists on working. “If I abandon work what can we do? I have to help my family."

The De Bellis find with each passing winter, despite small increases in uic payments, the erosion of their way of life continues. To maintain their large bungalow in the Italian suburb of Downsview (bought in 1967 when houses were affordable), they make minor daily sacrifices—no holidays, few new clothes, no restaurants, clubs or movies. Living in an expensive city makes it even more difficult to stretch the uic dollar. Their property taxes alone will be about $1,000 this year. Locked in by lack of alternate skills and age, De Bellis can't see any improvement ahead. He spends his days cleaning the snow, taking the boys to school and just waiting, accepting unemployment as something inevitable. Still, he growls at nobody in particular: “They should be ashamed of themselves for what they have done to us in the past 10 years. ’’ ANGELA FERRANTE