There goes the Canadian dream
Norris Arm couple weighing options as new budget brings financial challenges
The budget is coming down hard on Newfoundlanders from all walks of life, and for one Norris Arm couple it’s creating an absolute nightmare not at all resembling the dream they held for three years.
Misty Mbatkam has an African husband, Valery. Due to the length of time it took to get his Canadian citizenship papers in order, they moved to South Korea so they could work, save money and be with each other.
During their time in South Korea the couple struggled to survive in a place where they didn’t fit in. But they maintained their ultimate goal of moving “’home” to Newfoundland would be worth it. They focused on saving money to be able to start that life together.
“We had a hard two years up there. We suffered (and) the only thing we said (was that) the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow was going to be coming home here and making a good life for ourselves,” Mbatkam said.
It turns out there is no gold in the end, especially with the new provincial budget and the increased taxes and fees that come with it.
“It might not seem like a lot to some people, $3,000 extra, but it’s going to be a sting for us. To go back and forth to work with gas and insurance, it’s going to be hard,” she said about the financial challenges they now face.
Valery has a master’s degree in international business, but he is unable to work using his degree in Newfoundland, so he is working at a garage in Gander. She works in Grand FallsWindsor.
“Right now we pay $379 a month for insurance. That’s just liability. Now they’re saying that’s going to go up another 15 per cent and then with the stickers, how can me and him really survive? We’re just doing it now with two of us working,” said Mbatkam.
“It’s sad. He’s out there with his education making $11.63. He’s got to drive to Gander every day. Really, he’s working for nothing,” Mbatkam said.
They were going to use their savings to pay for Valery to do the licensed practical nursing program so he could get a Canadian education and would not have to work in the garage.
“I just want him to get some Canadian education so he’ll be able to get something, be- cause a man with his education shouldn’t be out making $11.63 an hour,” said Mbatkam.
Now it’s looking like they would need to get a loan for him to go to school, which would put them in an even worse financial situation.
“We’re between a rock and a hard place. There’s nowhere for us to turn,” Mbatkam told TC Media. “Since we went away we’re doing pretty good. We’re not living paycheque to paycheque, but it’s going to come to that.”
Mbatkam said she felt she could cry when listening to the budget announcements.
“Because it’s almost like I lied to Valery about what our life was going to be like. That’s the way I felt. I said we’ll go home and we’ll go to work, we’ll save money - not going to happen.”
Now with the extra taxes and fees, the couple is seriously considering the possibility of packing up and moving, yet again.
“I don’t have an extra $3,000 in my bank account for the extra they’re planning on me paying. I don’t have it,” Mbatkam said.
Three years of planning, dreaming and making arrangements are now at risk.
“I truly thought that we were going to have a really good life over here ... but it’s getting to the point where two people working and two cars and gas and all the cuts, we don’t stand a chance.”
Theirs is a reality that a lot of other Newfoundlanders are facing.
“I don’t know what they’re planning on doing for the people, because with all the cutbacks, people are suffering,” added Mbatkam.
“I don’t know what they’re planning on doing for the people, because with all the cutbacks, people are suffering.” Misty Mbatkam
Misty and Valery Mbatkam are feeling the backlash of the newly released budget and are even considering the possibility of moving as the expenses associated with living in Newfoundland soar.