Seven years too long to wait for CSSA, migrants say
Immigrant single mothers have called on the government to change the welfare policy that allows them to qualify for Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA) only after they have lived in Hong Kong for seven years.
Thirty single mothers and their children protested outside government headquarters yesterday. The group tore up copies of population policy reports and handed a letter to a government representative, together with rotten vegetables, soft drink cans and cardboard boxes.
Sze Lai-shan, community organiser with the Society for Community Organisation, said these items represented the hardship the mothers experienced.
'Since they can't get CSSA and find decent jobs to support their lives, they have to pick rotten vegetables for dinner and earn from selling empty cans and boxes,' Ms Sze said.
Immigrants can only get CSSA after seven years of residence. Prior to 2004 they could get it after a year's residence.
Ms Sze said most single parents had to share their children's welfare.
Among them is divorcee and mother of two Ms Kwok, who works as a tailor and earns about HK$1,500 a month. Another single mother, Ms Lee, 43, emigrated from Shenzhen in 2004. Her husband died in 2003, after which she had to raise her four-year-old son alone. The two rely on HK$3,300 welfare each month.
A Labour and Welfare Bureau spokeswoman said that in exceptional cases, it could use its discretion to help non-eligible immigrants.