How is a person with disabilities, mental health issues and addictions supposed to improve their lot in life when the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) benefits get clawed back whenever they go out and work for extra income. We discriminate because we don’t understand the struggle is real for so many Canadians trying to live on $1100 per month or less. Under this benefit, they can earn an extra $200 per month before the government starts clawing back the benefits. With no incentives, no encouragement, job coaching or family support such as transportation or childcare for example, how is it possible that someone can lift that boot off their neck? It takes a toll on someone’s health trying to get basic needs met, trying to reach out to people who do not listen, trying to do the right thing and make good decisions. Throw in some addiction, depression and violence and you have yourself a taste of what it is like living hand to mouth year after year after year under the threat of homelessness.
I use BRADPOV as an acronym for bullying, racism, addiction, depression, poverty, obesity, and violence. These social problems are so intertwined leaving so many Canadians vulnerable. These issues seem insurmountable and governments get too big to resolve them. It is no wonder the burn out rate for social workers is so high. It is no wonder there is a mental health crisis. We blame society but we are society. We walk past these people every day. Discrimination has a lot of layers and is very painful to those who are unfairly disadvantaged or excluded from society.
Dr. Paul Farmer, known for providing medical care to impoverished countries says the idea that some lives matter less is the root of all that is wrong with the world. We carry on these disapproving charades because it is easier than trying to understand what it is like to walk in that person’s shoes. So, the next time you see someone who appears to be struggling hold the door open for them. After all they have walked through it is the least you can do. Am I the only one?