It’s amazing what some folks will call a disability now.

I’m still curious what the human rights people’s explanation is for this.

The Ontario Court of Appeal has upheld rulings that denying two chronic alcoholics long-term support payments would violate the province’s Human Rights Code.

The Ontario Disability Support Program had argued over the years the men should be ineligible for benefits because their sole impairment was severe alcoholism.

That argument had been rejected by the Social Benefits Tribunal in 2006 and last year by the Ontario Divisional Court, and the support program director took the case to the Appeal Court.

The Appeal Court on Thursday upheld the earlier rulings, saying that denying benefits to Robert Tranchemontagne and Norman Werbeski — who died a year ago — would be discriminatory, based on their disability.

It rejected arguments the men should instead collect welfare, which would require them to look for a job and get help with their alcoholism.

Welfare payments would be about half of what recipients receive in long-term disability.

So because a couple people who can’t be bothered making use of the more than a few options open to them re: getting a halfway decent job, the appropriate counselling–paid for by us, most likely–so they can at least have a chance at not drinking, and generally having a far more decent life than they’re giving themselves now are too lazy to do any of the above, Ontario’s human rights commission–and, apparently, the court of appeals–escentially states they get to be lumped in with those of us who just so happen to actually be disabled because… why, exactly? They can’t drink as much on welfare? They might actually have to eventually work? Seriously, I’m clueless here.

How is it, exactly, that two people who’s only “disability” is the fact they can’t seem to let go of the bottle long enough to get their heads on straight get to sit there and say they’re disabled, meanwhile the actual disabled among us pretty much get the shaft, and are at the same time trying to wiggle their way off this fish hook Ontario’s government calls a support program? Okay, I get it–kicking the habbit’s hard. I’ve got an uncle who’s been quitting off and on since before I was born. It sucks. Just like quitting smoking sucks. Or getting over your addiction to pain killers. Or any number of bad habbits people pick up for one or more of several hundred reasons. I get that. But being addicted to smoking, or pain killers, or any number of those other bad habbits, isn’t a disability. Neither, contrary to what our lovely HRC would like us to believe, is alcoholism.

Not entirely too long ago–in fact, I’m pretty sure it’s still going on in one way, shape or form–a relative of mine ended up with some pretty significant health issues. Not to get into any major details–folks I talk to on a regular basis already know the specifics, but it’s resulted in some pretty unhealthy complications that pretty much kept him doing as little as humanly possible while he recovered, on doctor’s orders. That same doctor also told him 3 things he was to start doing, as soon as humanly possible after he was pretty well recovered, in order to avoid a repeat–and, yes, so he could eventually get back to work. In no specific order they were: knock off the smoking, get a reasonable amount of exercise, lose some weight. He did none of those three. Instead, he started the ball rolling to try and collect his own disability paycheck. I don’t believe he ever succeeded, though he may still be trying–in all honesty, I haven’t been bothered to ask. But, he took that approach because it was easier–because he wouldn’t have to change anything then, and he and his family could still keep living most of the lives they were used to. Of course, meanwhile while he was trying to pull off that maneuver, money was tighter than anything and his wife ended up having to take a minimum wage job just to keep the roof over their heads–she hadn’t worked for at least 25 years until then. I continue to maintain he shouldn’t get a dime from ODSP, and neither, in my honest opinion, should these two.

Now, yeah, I’m definitely not the biggest fan MCSS and the Ontario Disability Support Program have at the moment. I’ll admit that. But in this case, if only because it illustrates in its most simplistic way part of what’s making the rest of us come up with the short end of the stick, I’m falling in step right beside them on this one. Save the disability payments for those of us who’re actually, you know, disabled. And get the one guy who’s still alive some freaking help. Seriously.

8 comments
  1. You write:

    “How is it, exactly, that two people who’s only “disability” is the fact they can’t seem to let go of the bottle long enough to get their heads on straight…”

    A “disability” that I have is that I am completely blind. To the best of my knowledge there is absolutely nothing I can do to remediate this situation. Although blindness does not preclude me from being gainfully employed, it is definitely a barrier to full inclusion in the work force.

    Can you offer empirical data showing that there are not certain alcoholics facing the same situation? I don’t understand the distinction you make between alcoholism and other impairments which affect an individuals ability to be fully included in the work force.

    1. The distinction I make, on its face, is that your blindness absolutely cannot be cured, or otherwise “treated”. Nor, I’m going to assume, did you explicitly do anything that lead to your being blind. However in this case, these two had options. Options you, as a gainfully employed tax payer, would probably end up paying for anyway. Instead of exercising those options, they’re escentially saying they’re no different from someone who is blind or deaf, be they born that way or having become that way over time. And they ask that we ignore the fact their situation could have been entirely preventable, if not mitigated. Whereas I’m again making an assumption here that yours, and definitely mine, could not be.

  2. It’s not nice to consider something that’s self-inflicted a disability, but speaking from personal experience, alcoholism definitely has that kind of effect.

    It doesn’t matter how a person became an alcoholic, the fact is that they are, and they can’t ever not be one. My dad believed up until and on the day he died that he didn’t have a drinking problem. It affected his work, his relationships, and ended his life. If that isn’t a disability, what is it?

    1. Smokers don’t believe they have a problem either, for the most part. Those who don’t choose to quit on their own usually don’t because they see absolutely nothing wrong with it. Does that make it a disability as well? If no, where’s the limit?

      1. My dad was a smoker as well, but it didn’t have the effect on him that alcohol did. Alcohol pickled his liver. He mentally did not understand what was wrong with him. Smoking is a far cry from alcoholism.

        1. I suppose that depends on perspective. As I said in the entry, my smoker relative was escentially told to quit. He didn’t–because he saw nothing wrong with it. It, in combination with weight issues, got to the point where he was escentially ordered not to work for fear of exagerating other physical complications. He was told how to fix it and, because he saw nothing wrong with what he was doing in spite of being told, didn’t do so. Instead, he tried claiming disability benefits.

          His problem, like these two, was largely self-inflicted. The only real difference between him and the guys in this article is it hasn’t yet occured to him he can take the program to court and effectively force them to pay him for his own ignorance.

          I guess what I’m saying is if you’re together enough to know your problem is significant enough to take a crack at disability benefits, you’re together enough to know you have a problem. I draw the line at knowing you have a problem and rather than trying to fix it, spending several years arguing over whether or not you should have to. And to me, that’s kind of what this sounds like.

  3. So, it would appear to me, and correct me if I am wrong, that you do not believe alcoholism to be a disease? Do you believe that there are some individuals who can become alcohol dependent through no fault of their own (other than taking a first drink at some point in the past)? Do you believe that treatment for alcoholism varies in its effectiveness, and that it * may * be very difficult to treat some instances of alcoholism?

    1. Now you’re shifting the argument from disability to disease, which is precisely where I wasn’t going with this. But, since you asked, no–I don’t believe it’s something you can blame on your grandfather on your mother’s side for passing down to you. That would be the same as saying anyone born into a family in which anyone directly related–parent, grandparent, etc–was a drug addict would be just as likely, and indeed excused, for turning out the same way. Or indeed any other addiction the parents, grandparents etc might have had–again, smoking’s an example.

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