Anyone living on social assistance or disability knows how degrading and disgusting the system is. It’s almost like it was made to shame anyone who needs help. In Canada, many people have this glorified view of life on disability. “Oh you don’t have to work? You’re so lucky getting to sit at home and do what you want.” If I can lift the veil from just one person’s eyes I will be satisfied.
I suffer from chronic pain, anxiety, and mobility issues that are new to me. I was recently prescribed a wheelchair by my doctor to help relieve the pain I experience when walking. I had no idea how to go about getting it covered (my disability is supposed to cover medical devices) so I contacted my worker and asked how to start the process.
She had no idea what to do. She tried to google what to do and ended up asking a colleague. She has not known the answer to a single question I have asked. She is untrained and knows nothing but knowledge that can be gleaned off of the government of Canada websites. In the end I called the company I wish to supply my wheelchair and got more information from them. This was almost four weeks ago.
In Canada there is provincial disability. Every province has its own system for the disabled. In Ontario it’s called the Ontario disability support program, or Odsp. I applied for coverage to see an occupational therapist, who is the only person who can apply to have your device fully covered, three and a half weeks ago. I called my worker and she informed me that Odsp requires ten to fifteen business days to process mail. How is waiting three weeks just to hear they received your request “fair”.
I truly cannot do even basic errands. I can barely leave my house because I am afraid of the pain it will cause. Yet because I am on social assistance I need to wait as long as four or five months to even know if I will qualify for coverage. It takes about a month to know if you will see the occupational therapist. Another week or two to see them. Then you discuss what you need and they have to find a chair or even a company that will suit your needs. Odsp must then be sent a quote, which takes up to three weeks to even reach your worker. If your worker agrees the quote is reasonable they then send it to the ADP, or assistive devices program. They then deliberate for an average of four to six weeks (it can be longer) until they reach a decision. Then they have to contact the caseworker, who contacts the company, and they can then start the process of sending the chair.
So to get medically necessary equipment to the people who need it most takes months. If I could pay for one I would. For now I have to rent one.
On Odsp you also cannot marry a working individual. If you do, you lose most or all of your money and become a burden for as long as you are married. Your spouse’s earnings are deducted from your check dollar for dollar until you receive no money. After that happens you have to fight to keep your drug, dental, and eyewear coverage. You must send in every check your spouse receives every month so they can make sure they don’t give you excess money. If they do make a mistake and pay money you aren’t supposed to get, they don’t inform you, they simply request that you pay them every penny back. (whenever they finally find out they did pay you aka up to five years later when they review all the files)
You cannot have more than five thousand dollars in the bank at any time. And until January of 2017, even child support is taken, being counted as income.
If you medically require a special diet, such as allergies or intolerances, they base it on your need. I know that if you have celiac disease you qualify for a measley fifty extra dollars to pay for all gluten free products. Twenty dollars if you are lactose intolerant. A single bag of lactose free milk is over ten dollars, and a bag of gluten free bread is almost eight.
The arguments I hear are, “People on disability don’t deserve as much as a regular person, they don’t work so why should they need a cellphone or internet?” “People on disability should just get a job, stop being lazy.” “They are all junkies anyways.” I make less than a full time minimum wage worker, and my full time, 24/7 job is suffering not of my own making. I didn’t choose to be disabled. And according to the nay-sayers, even if I was able to work, I couldn’t apply for a job because I can’t afford internet. (I can because I have an amazing roommate and very little costs outside of food, rent, phone, and internet) Living on Odsp puts you at something like 33% below the poverty line.
The point I am trying to make, is why do the disabled deserve to suffer even more than they already are? Life is hard enough without having to sacrifice food for your heating bill. So please stop judging everyone unable to work. Someday someone you love or even yourself may require to live like they do.