To the editor:
So, the Ontario Conservatives announced their plan to "reform" Ontario's disability income support system using the mind-numbing logic of the federal disability plan – CPP-D.
You must be completely incapable of working, but you improve your chances of getting the meagre benefit if you check the box for "vocational rehabilitation" to help you get back to the work that you must be incapable of doing to get the benefit in the first place.
And once you get the benefit, you are allowed to earn a small amount each year to augment the benefit that you were eligible for because you were completely incapable of working.
A friend with serious MS applied for CCP-D while in graduate school and was denied, because she was in part-time studies. Had she been receiving the benefit already, however, she would have been encouraged to go back to school to better her chances of employment. If that makes sense to anyone, I would love to hear that logical argument.
Perhaps we should reform both the provincial and federal systems based on a different, simpler logic: people with disabilities and/or chronic medical conditions often have additional demands on their resources (money, time, health, and emotions), which may reduce their capacity to contribute and participate in our workaholic economy.
Therefore, our disability income support system should allow them first to survive (including consideration for medical costs and housing) and more importantly, support them to thrive by participating and contributing to the full extent that they can, without penalty.
This participation may take many forms and is subject to different circumstances over the life cycle: full or part-time work, volunteering, artistic contributions, care for family and community members---to name only the obvious ones.
The idea of a minimum standard of living below which no one should fall is not new or radical.
It dates back to the 1942 reforms of a British civil servant, William Beveridge and is still the underlying principle of income security programs in countries like Norway.
It's the 21st century: time to start thinking about people with disabilities as people as deserving of a decent life and as capable of unique contributions to society as anyone else.