We are both high risk when it comes to Covid-19 but, because the Ontario provincial government treats all $2,000 as income (don’t worry, they’re generous and the first $200 is exempt,) we can’t afford to ensure we’re staying safe during the pandemic. We could always be irresponsible and skate The Government Totally Sucks (a.k.a. Dealing With ODSP, CERB And Employment(by if we didn’t set money aside to pay back our CERB taxes, but that may create a bigger problem down the road.
Stealing From The Poor And Giving To The… Poor?
Thankfully, the provincial government decided to give extra cash to ODSP recipients not on CERB.
This little boost was for May, June and July (it might have been April, May, June actually) so it was no help to us either way. Upon being confronted over counting all $2,000 as income and taking half of the taxable cash, they said it was being reinvested into ODSP. Maybe that’s where this came from? (I had no idea that Ontario Premier Doug Ford was the Robin Hood of disability pensions though!)
I know he likes to brag about how people can’t be fired for health and safety reasons related to Covid-19. The real truth is that it’s absolutely meaningless when the system is rigged against the vulnerable however. You can say a job will be there for someone until you’re blue in the face but it’s pointless if they can’t afford to leave that job when it’s necessary.
One of Ford’s first acts after becoming Premier was to roll back labour reforms and paid sick days. Even now, he refuses to take Federal money to provide 10 paid sick days for anyone who needs them during the pandemic. How can someone who is poor afford to stay home if they have a suspected case of Covid-19 before getting tested or receiving the results?
The answer is that they can’t.
Pawning Off The Problem
Federally, the Liberals were pressured by the NDP to issue a one-time payment for the disabled.
It wouldn’t have solved all our problems, but Jan and I would’ve received $600. Unfortunately, the plan was stopped dead in its tracks by the Conservatives’ petty attempt to bring back in-house sittings of Parliament. Since then, it’s only been mentioned a handful of times and I can’t remember how long it’s been at this point.
It just becomes really hard not to feel like an afterthought when every level of government sweeps your needs under the rug. Media barely covers these situations either, so where do you go to be heard?
In the end, this leads to hopelessness and thinking that nobody cares.
Working 9 To 5
I’m sure some will say we should be grateful that Jan has a job at all.
While that’s true, it still doesn’t change the fact that she doesn’t have a choice to go back. Whatever the risk is or isn’t, she has to work because we won’t be able to get by if she doesn’t. I’m not really sure why we should be thankful for a system that takes the decision out of our hands and puts us at risk regardless.
This is just after three months of CERB as well. Cases are winding down in the immediate area but what if there’s a second wave that’s worse this winter? We already know we can’t make this work financially if Jan leaves again. Having a job is great but you know what’s better? Not needing to put your health at risk because there’s not an other option afforded to you.
It shouldn’t matter what social level you’re at. Anyone who is high risk needs to be taken care of and protected.
Finding Our Outside Voices
I’m tired of hearing myself at this point. It isn’t something we get a break from or that will magically go away in a few months though. Being permanently disabled, I have to deal with these issues for the rest of my life. This isn’t to diminish what anyone else is going through, I’m just tired of feeling like my story isn’t important enough to be told or listened to.
This complacency when it comes to people with disabilities makes me angry. I’m tired of hearing people say we milk the system even though it hasn’t kept up with the rate of inflation like… ever. That’s not even factoring in the most recent cost of living increases and soaring grocery bills during the pandemic. (We were actually supposed to get a whopping 3% increase in ODSP income back in 2018… until the Doug Ford government slashed it in half to 1.5% along with other previous advancements.)
I’m not trying to gain sympathy or special treatment. I just want to be looked at like a human being who isn’t a victim of their disability. You know, the thing I had no control over when going blind 19-years-ago and still have no control over now?
When it comes down to it, maybe just think about who deserves what. Getting CERB while on ODSP during the pandemic has been stressful, made finances a challenge and impacted our mental health. Having a job is great but it doesn’t make our situation any easier by a long shot.
Really, relying on the government for support totally sucks. It’s not a free ride or something I’d wish on anyone.
(Note: I noticed afterwards that some important information about how ODSP works when you’re married was left out of this entry. As a result, I filled in the blanks in a follow-up that you can find here.)