Minimal support for persons with disabilities can lead some to suicide

Opinion by Dave Glover

One thousand two hundred and twenty-eight dollars per month — that’s 1,228.00 — for food and shelter. 

For those existing on the Ontario Disability Support Benefit (ODSP) as their only source of income, $1228.00 is all they have.

This means necessary activities like transportation, using the internet access and connecting with friends and social services via cell phone are luxury items and very much out of reach.

In today’s world, any person who doesn’t have access to these three may as well not exist. 

Let me break it down how dire the situation for disabled Ontarians tends to be.

For shelter, the person is expected to budget five hundred and twenty-two dollars a month.

That’s all.

For basic needs, the person is allotted seven hundred and six dollars per month which is supposed to cover food, clothing, transportation, internet access, and a cell phone. 

Could you live on this budget?

Could you afford to have a place to live, eat decently and have access to online plus have a working cell phone, so that when you need to find work or have a call come in from a potential employer (who is okay with your disability), you would be able to respond?

How many of you said no?

For disabled ODSP recipients who can work, they can earn $1000 per month for a total monthly income of $2228.00.

Their ODSP is reduced by 75% of the amount if they earn over $1,000 per month as per the change made on Mar 2, 2023 by the Ontario Government.

This pre-supposes ODSP recipients can work. 

The process for receiving ODSP is lengthy. It takes so long because the government has to ensure that one’s disability is a disability and that the recipient is not able to work.

When one is disabled, one is deemed unable to work thus, qualifying for the benefit. Given how arduous the process is, it seems odd that the Ford/Piccini Government has accepted that ODSP recipients are somehow able to work. 

This goes against the process for approval almost to the letter.

For those unable to work, the $1,228 they receive is inadequate. Most are forced to pay almost 100% of their ODSP benefit for rent, leaving little to nothing for food. 

I hear people say the new federal disability benefit just passed into law should be enough, that somehow Ottawa has to find a way to help all disabled Canadians.

More importantly, the Federal plan doesn’t exist yet. The Federal Government says it needs at least eighteen months before a program can be rolled out and in that time, we may well have an election. It is a minority government after all. 

The Conservative Party who voted against a Federal Disability Benefit program would kill it before it gets off the ground.

Doug Ford has said that the best way to help disabled Ontarians is to get them back to work. 

Apparently, the Ford/Piccini government no longer sees disability as an impediment to working. 

While this may be true of a very small cohort of people receiving ODSP, the majority can’t work due to their – duh – disability.

For Ontarians and Canadians dealing with disabilities, we need action now. 

People are opting for medical assistance in dying to avoid a disabled life in abject poverty. 

Disabled Canadians are living on the streets because they can’t afford to rent a room. 

Disabled Canadians are among a growing class of Canadians on the margins of society who are just too poor for anyone to care about them.

We get a lot of lip service about supplying vital services, but the disabled are being told to hang on or just go get a job. Like they are just faking it. 

During the pandemic, Ottawa rolled out an entire suite of relief packages like the CERB and the CEWS for Canadians unable to work due to the restrictions. But for disabled Canadians, little to nothing was provided.

They were ignored then and still are now despite 100% of their income going back into the economy just like everyone else.

Why are they once again being told to wait another 18 months?

Ottawa can act in the blink of an eye when it needs to and frankly, the Federal Government needs to do so now.

Poverty is literally killing disabled Canadians from coast to coast to coast. Premiers are refusing to assist the disabled. 

In Ontario, the current government is sitting on $22 Billion in excess funds, but those on ODSP will likely see no improvement in their financial condition.

If Ottawa is going to act and make the benefit happen it needs to do so now. For some disabled people struggling with their lives, there may not be another 18 months in their future.

In conclusion, I want to add one more item to ponder.

The average cost to rent a room in Canada is: $834 a month; in Vancouver, it’s $1,053; in Toronto, $934 for just a single room. (As per Statistics Canada as of March 2023)

Could you live like this?

Please take the time to contact your local MP and MPP and tell them that they need to do more for Disabled Ontarians/Canadians. 

 

MP/CPC Philip Lawrence: 

12 Elgin Street East — Unit #4 — Cobourg, Ontario — K9A 0C5

Phone: 905.372.8757 — Fax: 905.372.1500 — Email: philip.lawrence@parl.gc.ca

 

MPP/OPC David Piccini: 

117 Peter Street — Port Hope ON L1A 1C5 — Phone: 905-372-4000 — NEW Fax: 905-885-0050

Email: david.piccinico@pc.ola.org

 

Carla Qualtrough. The Rt. Honourable  Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion.

https://www.ourcommons.ca/members/en/carla-qualtrough(89272)#contact 

carla.qualtrough@parl.gc.ca

Dave Glover is a well known cultural and political commentator in Northumberland. Thousands of listeners, both locally and worldwide, know Dave because of his “Drive Time” radio broadcast that ran for more than 8 years and his 15 years hosting political programs on a local cable channel.
Listen to/Contact Dave 
Twitter: https://twitter.com/legant66?lang=ar-x-fm
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Email: HolisticPoliticalchat@gmail.com

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