For those of you who missed it, I recently wrote a letter to Members of Provincial and Federal Parliament (MPPs and MPs respectively.) I’m not sure what I was expecting in return but the results have left me feeling fairly defeated.
It’s not that they were ignored, it’s just that… they don’t really change anything..
How ODSP Interacts With CERB: Who I Contacted
I’ll start off by saying I didn’t e-mail anyone from the Provincial or Federal Conservative party.
Some may say that I should’ve engaged with them about how ODSP interacts with CERB and this is biased as a result. While I won’t argue that, I simply didn’t think there was a point in it. Conservatives, both federally and provincially, have made their agenda well-known. When it comes to the disabled or those on social services, they’ve been very clear through their own words and policies. If they were receptive to change, they wouldn’t be clawing back 50% of CERB from ODSP recipients in the first place. One e-mail isn’t going to change their minds. Unless it gains media coverage and makes them look bad, they don’t care.
Out of the six people I e-mailed, four replied back about how ODSP interacts with CERB. This includes people working for local MPPs Taras Natyshak (Essex,) Percy Hatfield (Windsor-Tecumseh) and Lisa Gretzky (Windsor West/community and social services critic.) On the federal level, the only local MP’s office that returned my e-mail was Irek Kusmierczyk (Windsor/Tecumseh.) All MPPs are part of the New Democratic Party (NDP) and federal response was from our local representative in the Liberal party.
I also e-mailed a local MP in the NDP, along with leaders of the provincial NDP and Liberals.
How ODSP Interacts With CERB: The Responses
When it came to the responses, they were a bit varied.
Offices from the MPPs were the first to reply and had all done so in about a week. Natishak’s office wanted my address to make sure I was talking to the proper representative. Since Hatfield’s office had already contacted me by then and I’m one of his constituents, I didn’t bother replying. Gretzky’s office was the last to respond aside from Kusmierczyk: His people just got back to me this week.
I’ll just give a summary of what I received because it wasn’t really earth shattering. If people really want to read those e-mails, let me know in the comments: If enough of you are interested, I’ll post them there.
Concentrating on the positive first, both Hatfield and Gretzky’s people got back to me with lengthy and detailed e-mails. Hatfield’s office also offered to check on my ODSP issues I mentioned in the letter (the part about not getting a breakdown of how we received what we did last month.) It was a nice gesture that I did appreciate, even if it didn’t totally help with our overall problems.
Unfortunately, that’s where I was left feeling empty by these responses. Both people were quick to point out what they’d done and what they would do if they were in power (with Gretzky’s staff even providing links to her public statements) but no one made me feel like they would truly take up the cause. Despite reassurances they understood my frustrations regarding how ODSP interacts with CERB, no one seemed like they’d press the issue some more.
Truthfully (and I asked Jan about this) it came across as campaigning instead of actually addressing what I wrote. Almost like a sterile response that doesn’t pin them down to anything and ultimately goes nowhere. The e-mail I received from Kusmierczyk’s office was even worse. Essentially their message boiled down to them understanding my concerns, thanking me for sharing them and a pledge to take them under advisement.
That’s really great and all but action would be a lot better, you know?
How ODSP Interacts With CERB: Final Thoughts
In the end, writing my letter really felt like a waste of time.
I don’t mean to be a Debbie Downer. Obviously politicians can’t go full tilt into every social issue they get an e-mail about. Still, it would’ve been nice to feel like they’re taking it seriously at least. Instead, their sterile and dispassionate responses made me feel like I was being brushed off again and as if those of us who are disabled remain stuck in a loop of helplessness.
A lot of people were proud of me for sending the letter, excited when I received responses even and I sincerely appreciate that. It’s just hard not to be bitter or cynical when you know their lives get to go on normally and (what was supposed to be) your big way of taking action is essentially meaningless.
Am I being over-dramatic? Maybe. All I know is that Jan is back at work now and nothing has really changed. Parliament is voting again next Wednesday on the bill to give the disabled a one-time payment so there’s that at least. Hopefully the Conservatives get their heads out of their bum bums and allow it to pass.
Maybe I should stick to being the fun-loving comedian here though. Activism is like… hard and stuff.