Two weeks ago, I sent the first of my letters to Ontario’s members of parliament. Specificly, I emailed the premier, the minister of community and social services, my local conservative member of parliament, and the leaders of both the conservatives and the NDP. I went into quite a bit of detail on the specifics of our problems with the way current disability arangements are set up. Surprisingly enough, the best response came from an unlikely source–the NDP, who actually went so far as to tell me roughly what they’d do differently were they in government. I picked it apart yesterday. There was even less to pick apart from the liberals, who basicly said “So noted.”, or the conservatives, who said absolutely nothing. So, I fired off this one just this morning.
Subject: Further to my letter (Disability Does Not Equal Poverty – 3/12/2010)
On March 12 of this year, I wrote a letter to each and every one of you, and challenged you to establish a dialogue as to what can be done to address the currently unacceptable inequality between those of us living on disability support and those of us able to land at least minimum wage employment. In the time that has past since that letter, I have received what at best can be described as a minimalistic response. Since our brief exchange re: Ontario disability Support Program, the provincial budget was released, and appropriately criticised for its shortcomings in this area.
As stated in my original letter, on March 31 of this year, the seventh in a string of increases will be applied to the minimum wage, effective immediately. That increase, an addition of 75 cents per hour, amounts to a total of approximately 27 dollars more based upon a 37-hour work week, or 111 dollars extra per month. In contrast, the Ontario Disability Support Program is to see its monthly distribution to recipients increased by a far less than encouraging 1 percent, or 10 dollars extra, as of the fall of this year.
This only serves to further widen, not narrow, the gap between Ontario’s disabled population and those able enough to find at least a minimal amount of work. It additionally runs the risk of further raising the poverty line, putting it that much farther out of the reach of those of us under these restrictions.
As I have done in my previous letter, I would like to take the opportunity to encourage all parties to establish a dialogue in order to address an obvious underfunding of services crutial to many of Ontario’s disabled and their ability to live independantly while at the same time attempting to find work, so as to remove themselves from the need for further ODSP services. Credit should be given, at least in part, to the leader of the NDP, who has at the very least indicated the willingness to explain what if any action they would be willing to initiate were they given the opportunity to govern. I had hoped to see a similar response from Ontario’s liberal party, however I was instead greeted by a response which, summarized, amounted to little more than “We’ll take it under advisement.”. I received less than that from Ontario’s conservative party, including Pembroke and area’s local member of provincial parliament. This demonstrates to me an unwillingness by the two parties in question to discuss the issue of what amounts to financial handycapping, despite evidence indicating the problem not only exists but is worsening. This will not by any means correct the problem as it stands now.
Once again, I would encourage extensive conversation regarding this issue, which will hopefully lead to equally extensive measures in rectifying the financial situation faced by disabled individuals, who are quite capable of working but simply have not been hired, across the province. I would be more than willing to have this conversation with anyone with an interest, and in so doing, provide them with the information necessary to obtaining a closer look at the precise limitations placed on Ontario’s disabled due to the present situation. This includes, but is not limited to, a glaring disconnect in the realistic financial requirements of a disabled individual needing to provide shelter for him/herself and the allowance for same provided under the Ontario Disability Support Program.
This is a conversation that absolutely must happen, most especially in order to minimize if not negate completely the dependence on other social systems, such as subsidized housing, which are already under significant strain (see: subsidized housing waiting list in Renfrew county, currently 2-4 years, or subsidized housing waiting list, Ottawa and area, currently 4-8 years). Only through extensive dialogue can problems such as this be addressed, and ultimately solved. I would therefore again encourage everyone named in this letter to become actively involved in this dialogue. Failure to address an issue of this magnitude will amount to a failure to provide affordable living for all Ontarions, and is unacceptable at the absolute minimum. I look forward to seeing the beginning of a hopefully educational dialogue on the ODSP issue in the near future. Thank you in advance for your time, and I will appreciate your prompt feedback concerning the matter in question.
(Contact info removed from this version–I hate spam)
It’s actually quite sad that the NDP, who I have very little really in common with, gets this more than the other two appear to so far. There’s a large as hell problem cropping up here. Well, okay, it’s been cropping up since at least as long as I’ve been legally old enough to actually be affected by it. Sad part is, for at least that long, no one’s really been open to the idea of talking about it. Kind of like it’s one of those things you kind of toss onto the back burner in the hopes some seemingly larger problem will come up and divert attention away from it. Then, once that’s done, you can safely tuck it under the nearest piece of carpet or something and forget about it. It’s worked for this long–folks have been more than willing to forget about it. Now, let’s see if we can try and convince some of these folks that actually talking about it is the better way to go. Or, at the very least, I’ll just keep periodically bouncing something off their mailboxes. Sooner or later, someone’ll get tired of seeing my name show up. Tired enough to talk about it? Could happen.