Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Why am I made to suffer?

As my friends you are aware I, through no fault of my own, have muscular dystrophy.  This is a degenerative genetic disorder that I have no control over, so it begs the question, why must I, and other disabled people, also suffer the indignity of a substandard life?  What I'm referring to is the inadequate amount of money I receive on disability.  With my situation, and that of many others, I need an accessible home, these are few and far between and the cost is more than I can afford, so I'm on a waiting list for a subsidized accessible unit.  And until I get an accessible unity I can't get any funding for a power chair.  Waiting for an accessible unit could take a long time, some people wait up to 7 years, because our government has no national housing program, and many governments are discontinuing or reducing funding for subsidized housing.  Hopefully my Dr can move me up the list due to the danger posed to me by living in a regular home without a power chair.  For now I'm forced to rely on my parents to help support me, thank goodness they have the ability to do so, I couldn't imagine the situation for people with poor parents or no parents at all.
     The reason life is so unaffordable for people like me is, one the cost of living has increased, and two governments, provincial and federal, have cut funding for the disabled.  So when a government talks about reducing corporate taxes for already rich corporations, reducing taxes for the ultra rich, increase spending on war machines to record levels, introduces crime bills that are unnecessary and will cost us more, and cutting funding for so called "frivolous" social programs, it's people like me and the poor who get hurt and have to pay the price for unsound political decisions.  I come back to a point I often make, the public sector and social services didn't cause the recession, so why do we suffer the consequences, and the ones who caused it get bailed out?  Canada is supposed to be a social democracy, where wealth is redistributed equitably through our tax system, it seems we are turning into a republic where the rich elite make decisions in their interests at the cost to the rest of us.  This is evidenced by the widening gap between the rich and the poor.  But I digress, what I'm pointing out is that I am made to suffer and am pushed to the margins of society where people like me are neglected and attacked by governments, I'm not looking for pity, I'm looking for understanding of my situation, and a situation others have to face.  And through this understanding I hope that people will ensure those less fortunate than them are not neglected and made to suffer due to ignorant government policies.
     Below is an excerpt from the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty's campaign "Raise the Rates", they and similar organizations in other provinces are advocating for the disable and the poor.

1) Reverse the Cuts, Raise the Rates!
In 1995 the Tory government cut welfare rates by 21.6 % and froze disability. Since the Liberals came to power in 2003, they have not only failed to reverse the Harris cuts, but have actually perpetuated a further decline in rates. As a result of that initial 21.6% cut coupled with inflation for the last 16 years, welfare rates are approximately 55% below where they should be. If benefit levels were restored to the same level of spending power as we had in 1994, a single person on Ontario Works would receive an immediate $904/month instead of the miserable $593 now being issued. No one can survive on these poverty rates; $593 cannot afford someone a place to live let alone food and basic needs.
The Liberal government has now announced that they are freezing the minimum wage in 2011. Workers trying to survive on minimum wage are already making poverty wages and will now see their incomes fall as a result of inflation and a freeze on wages. Currently there are approximately 1 in 6 workers or working at or close to minimum wage in Ontario, and the gap between minimum wage and welfare is greater now than it ever has been.
WE DEMAND an immediate increase in OW and ODSP rates to bring them back to pre-Harris levels. 55% NOW– raise the rates to where people can live with health and dignity!
WE DEMAND the minimum wage freeze be lifted immediately and that minimum wage be increased to a living wage for everyone in Ontario.
2) Restore the Special Diet!
In the 2010 provincial budget last March, the Liberal government announced that the special diet would be slashed completely. The special diet has been a vital benefit that has put money in the pockets of communities forced to live in poverty on social assistance rates that are entirely inadequate. Due to community outrage and mobilization, the Liberal government have now backtracked and said that they will keep part of the Special Diet, however the program is being completely gutted. The new system excludes numerous health conditions and reduces the benefits
received for many other conditions. In addition applicants will have to release medical information and face other intrusive measures designed to prevent access to the benefit. Within the Liberals’ own statement about this measure, they refer to the fact that ‘many will not be eligible’. The new Special Diet comes in to affect on April 1st and all those who are not eligible under the new program will be cut off by July 31st.
The loss of the full Special Diet alongside declining social assistance rates will drive communities deeper into poverty and poor health. It is one of many social cuts to come as part of the government austerity measures and we must mobilize and demand that it be restored.
WE DEMAND the full restoration of the Special Diet to a benefit of up to $250 for food and complete reversal of all intrusive measures.
Dear Allies,
We are contacting you about the ‘Raise the Rates’ Campaign and a call for community organizations, union locals, community health centres, social agencies, drop-ins and beyond to join the campaign and be a part of building a provincial movement to raise social assistance rates to where people can live with health and dignity.
What you can do to join this campaign:
1) Endorse the Raise the Rates Campaign: Take this to your organization and officially sign-on to the Raise the Rates Campaign! Contact us to add your name as an endorsing / 416-925-6939.
2) Join the Movement:
• Invite OCAP and the Raise the Rates Committee to come speak to your organization, union local or centre
• Throughout the month of March, organizations will be hosting ‘Raise the Rates Assemblies’ in different cities across Ontario to talk about building this movement provincially. If you would like to be part of these Assemblies – let us know and we will connect you with existing groups or help you get something started in your area. In Toronto, this Assembly will be taking place: Sat. March 19th
• Raise the Rates Days of Action, Friday, April 1st, 12noon @ Nathan Phillips Square, Toronto: COME OUT as a contingent on April 1st in Toronto or build an action in your community.
• Start a ‘Raise the Rates’ committee in your area: let’s build this work beyond the next demonstration and in to a movement that is unstoppable.
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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice piece. Good luck to you..let's hope the Tories lose in Ontario!