Responding To Mr. Ford

The title of this video is sensationalist but Ford’s logic is broken nonetheless. He defends the elimination of the extra $100 benefit by saying people on ODSP with a part-time job collecting CERB would get a “few hundred” extra dollars per month, and then at the end says the best way to help people on OW and ODSP is “to get them a job”. Let’s take a look at this, shall we?

ODSP for an individual gives one about $1100 per month, OW gives an individual about half that–given how many people who were on CERB and struggling to make ends meet with $2000 per month for the first time in their lives, that should give them some idea of the hard choices those on ODSP and OW have to make.

OW loses even their paltry amount when they being receiving basically any amount of income–which means they can be working 20 hours a week and be NO better off than they were on OW. ODSP recipients have a better deal–they can make the first $200 without any deductions, get a $100 cheque for being employed, and get the rest of their income scaled back at 50%. This means that they can actually make $1500 a month easily when working a part-time job, so there is at least SOME incentive to work.

But that’s all based on an individual. ODSP recipients have to start reporting a romantic partner’s income when they’ve been co-habitating as romantic partners for 3 months. To put that into perspective, the CRA definition is 12 months, and the legal definition is 1 year if you have a child and 3 years if not. People with disabilities are thus economically punished for what is now considered a quite normal progression of a romantic relationship.

Mr. Ford’s solution is to “get them a job”. Perhaps that is as easy said as done for someone who has been so privileged their entire lives, but for many on OW and ODSP getting a job is NOT that easy–even in non-pandemic times. Many people on OW and ODSP have long gaps in their work history (which is kind of why they’re on these benefits in the first place), and many either don’t present well in interviews or have accommodation needs that employers can’t meet. And lest we make the mistake of drawing false distinctions between the population that receives OW and the population that receives ODSP, let’s keep in mind that many mental health disabilities are prohibitive in cost to test for and many people on OW would qualify easily for ODSP if they were able to afford the testing to get their disabilities diagnosed and documented.

Given that we are in a pandemic, and jobs are even fewer and farther between, the already difficult job search for folks on OW and ODSP has reached near impossible status. Telling them to get a job is not only unrealistic but ignorant, indifferent, and even cruel.

To illustrate this: I struggled to get a job despite having a Bachelor’s degree and a college diploma. I was diagnosed with autism as an adult purely because my parents footed the bill for testing. Despite being diagnosed, having medication and years of counseling, receiving ODSP, having a network of close friends and family, and largely passing as “normal” to the uninitiated, I struggled to find work. On those occasions when I did find work I was so crippled by anxiety and my digestive system so compromised that I was unable to hold onto a job for very long. I have finally, over the past year, secured a job that seems to work long-term–but that was a long journey, requiring a lot of things to fall into place just right and even now I can’t trust that it will last indefinitely. And that’s with a part-time job with an old friend as my employer.

So, with all due respect to the Premier, perhaps he would be best served to actually listen to the folks who know what they’re talking about rather than projecting his own privileged existence upon those who are most vulnerable in our society.

Published by Devin Hogg

My name is Devin Hogg. I was born and raised in Carnarvon, Ontario, Canada. I moved to Guelph, Ontario, Canada in 2009 for university and lived here ever since. In my free time, I enjoy reading, watching TV and movies, going on long walks, swimming, and practicing Chen style Tai Chi. I love to write poetry and blog regularly about topics such as mental health, sci-fi/fantasy series, faith, sexuality, and politics.

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