Disability payments must be boosted

TheStar.com – Opinion/Readers’ Letters – Re: A plan to fix long-term care, July 14
July 20, 2018.   Claude Wittmann, Toronto

Her message at the “disability and accessibility issues” pre-election debate that took place at Ryerson University on May 16, 2018, was apparently pro accessibility, but what she envisioned — implementing the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act and matching employers with people with disabilities — had no regard for one of our most basic requests: the dignity of having Ontario Disability Support Program rates at a livable income level.

Elliott’s version of accessibility even fell into oppressive reasoning when she shamelessly argued that her government could afford corporate tax cuts, but not to raise ODSP rates because of Ontario’s debt.

Currently, the maximum ODSP allowance in Toronto is $1,151 per month. It is lower in real terms than it was in 1998; it is 40 per cent under the poverty line; it is about half of the current market rent of a one bedroom in Toronto; and it is only about 1/25th of what our new health adviser, Dr. Rueben Devlin, will earn monthly.

In short, it is far from being a livable income. When we can work and go through the feat of finding a job in the ableist Ontario labour market, our lives do not get much better. Half of what we earn goes back to ODSP in a punitive tax-like system that adds stress, administration and close surveillance. Our basic needs still are not covered and our jobs stay precarious if they even last. Our health deteriorates and our thoughts can become suicidal.

In this harsh context, nobody can be considered an advocate for people with disabilities if they do not listen to us and face how undignifying and costly the current system is.

Claude Wittmann, Toronto

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