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AN OPEN LETTER TO THE ONTARIO LIBERALS IT'S TIME TO SHOW COMPASSION FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES
March 29, 2004
Ontario's disabled are once again being left out in the cold. After promising to raise both the minimum wage and the disability rates, you raised the minimum wage but are ignoring the disabled. People with disabilities in the community have been living on allowances that are not only significantly below the poverty level but that have been frozen since 1993. Those in institutions have not had an increase since 1989.Single disabled people (153,000 as of Dec 2003) receive a maximum of $930/month and can only earn a maximum of $160 before the money is clawed back.
Couples and families (47,000) can receive a maximum of $1417/month
Disabled in residential settings are allowed all of $112/month spending money.
According to the Bank of Canada inflation calculator, the cost of living has increased by 19.8% since 1993 and 35.5% since 1989.
The 2002 poverty limit for a single person in a city of 500,000 + was $19,261. Single people with disabilities receive a paltry 57% of that or a mere $11,160 per year.
It is time for a raise. While we realize there is a deficit the disabled have suffered enough.If we assume that all cases receive the maximum allowance (which is not the case) then the total cost of disability payments in a year is estimated at $2.5 billion. An immediate 10% increase would cost Ontario $250 million.
That may seem like a lot of money and it is but put in the context of the $75 billion annual expenditures for the province, that 10% increase only represents 0.334% of the total budget. It only goes part way in making up for the shortfall but we realize that the province cannot afford to immediately bring the allowance back to the 1993 level. Disability payments should also have a cost of living index built in starting with 2005.
The amount that people can earn before claw back should also be increased to encourage more disabled to work part time, contribute to society and to increase their feelings of self worth. In the long run, this will save the government money.
We also insist that the administration of the program be streamlined and improved to be less hostile to claimants as recommended in the critiques done by the Income Security Advocacy Centre in their paper "Denial By Design" (http://www.incomesecurity.org/upload/publications/46_brieffinal.pdf); the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in their critique called "Barriers to ODSP"; and the Ontario HIV Treatment Network brief called "Deserving Dignity" (http://www.ohtn.on.ca/pdf/Deserving_Dignity_Report.pdf)For further information call:
The Coalition for Appropriate Care and Treatment
Tony Cerenzia at 519-631-9334
Schizophrenia Society of Ontario
Mary Alberti at 416-449-6830 or Len Wall at 613-228-3138