Shameful to pick on poor and disabled

Posted on August 2, 2018 in Social Security Debates – Opinion/Readers’ Letters – Re: Province eliminates basic income program, August 1
Aug. 2, 2018.   Eileen Rankin

My young adult son is autistic and has a developmental disorder. His sole source of income is ODSP. With his very young developmental age, he will never be able to join the paid workforce. Were it not for my support, he would be destitute. I also have a niece who has Down syndrome. She is able to work part time only, for minimum wage. Without her parents’ support, she would likewise be destitute. This puts a huge financial demand on aging parents.

Individuals dependent on ODSP often have extraordinary health-care costs that are not always covered by OHIP or parents’ employee health insurance. In my son’s case, these uninsured health costs are over $1,000 monthly. This is on top of the cost of my son’s day program (over $1,200 monthly), and the cost of care at home so I can work (over $1,500 monthly). All tolled, it is an enormous financial burden. As a single parent age 61, I have no hope of ever retiring despite having a good job.

The promised 3 per cent increase to ODSP was not a lot, but it was something. Cutting it by half does not even cover the cost of inflation.

I hoped the pilot minimum income project would provide data on how providing a minimum income saves Ontarians money by reducing health-care and emergency housing costs, and reducing interventions with police. As Hugh Segal demonstrated in his paper that was the basis for the project, providing a minimum income to Ontarians can SAVE money on all of the above-mentioned public costs. Cancelling the project mid-stream wastes the money spent to date and prevents any evidenced-based data on which to make sound decisions. Ms. MacLeod’s claim the project was not succeeding is disingenuous; how would the government know without completing the project?

This decision is short-sighted and lacks compassion for the poorest and most vulnerable in our communities — people who often cannot object and cannot advocate for themselves. Our premier is looking for easy wins to demonstrate he is cutting costs. How shameful to pick on Ontarians like my son and niece.

While cancelling the pilot and planned increase to ODSP, Ms. MacLeod said nothing about how Ontario plans to improve the financial plight for our poorest, including those dependent on ODSP. Could Premier Ford and Ms. MacLeod survive on less than $12K yearly?

Eileen Rankin, Ottawa

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