I, as a person with a disability, would like to invite one or more of those in authority to live as one of us (a person with a disability), for a minimum of three months. I would like you to feel how we feel with the limitations that those in authority have placed upon us. Persons with disability receive a maximum of $906 per month. Depending on their rent, it could be less.
-Afford to eat properly. We are limited to sale items at bargain stores or the food bank. Fresh fruit or vegetables are out of the question as they cost too much for us to enjoy.
-Find a proper home to live in without being penalized.
-Recreation activities are restricted as everything has a fee. The pool, the theatre, the gym, you name it. It costs money, which we do not have. Even the transportation to get to these places costs money. Walking is free, but what about those of us that have mobility problems or do not live close enough to walk.
We are grateful to be able to make $500 extra a month without penalty at a part-time job. We are also allowed to apply for the government program for volunteering, which consists of $100 a month extra. The government program has a waiting list, and it’s not easy to find an employer who will hire a disabled person. Choices are few and far between for those of us who live in small rural towns.
Our support workers have to first help us find an employer who would be willing to hire a disabled person, and make sure that person has the ability to do what is required. We need to find transportation to and from work. Lastly, we must find suitable clothing for the job, so we must go to thrift stores.
To get a job, a person needs to have a resume. In order to have a resume, we need to have access to a computer. Most of us cannot afford to have a phone, let alone a computer. We can access one at the library or the employment centre, but there again, the mobility issue. A person can get a taxi or a bus, but again, there is the money issue.
This program is great for the disabled person because:
-It gets the person out into the community.
-It shows the community that we can fit in, and do the work required with maybe a few modifications, but the job will be done.
The extra income of $500 comes in very handy… I feel rich!
We have heard time and again about those in our governments getting increases in benefits and salaries, while we keep getting our funding cut. Funding cuts may not affect us directly, but when our support workers’ jobs or hours are cut, we are affected. Without our support workers, we have no idea about what is available to us.
In writing you this letter, I extend the invitation to those in authority to live as a person with disabilities does. Live on the amount of money we receive, so generously, every month. I challenge you to live as one of us for a minimum of three months.
In closing, I want to say, “I am not handicapped anymore. This is the way I am now.” I am proud to be Canadian. I have the right to live, not just “exist.” I don’t want a quick fix or a huge raise. I just want to live with dignity. Changes need to be made. I hope that one of you has the courage to accept my challenge.