Yesterday the BC Government announced that people receiving or applying for PWD (Person with Disability) benefits can now have up to $100,000 in assets.
I called a friend to share the news and after a few minutes of shared oxygen-depriving, tear-inducing, stomach-cramping laughter, I thought maybe someone not waving pom-poms, should say something.
And I do want to comment on this particular announcement by the BC Government and all the positive media attention it garnered for them.
Unfortunately, full comment will have to wait until my amygdala calms down enough to allow my frontal lobe to form full sentences.
That could take a while so in the interim suffice it to say that when a government:
- Has not raised ‘tuna-fish qualifies as a luxury item’ disability benefits in almost a decade (about $900/month in a city where a modest one bedroom rents for $1,200/month);
- Has virtually eliminated coverage of rehab/physiotherapy (which for some people with a disability can make the difference between walking or not);
- Refuses to properly cover needed therapy and supports for people with mental illness – including some with PTSD and other highly treatable conditions, who might, with proper support, be able to resume working -which would seem to be in everyone’s interest. (I know of an instance in which a person with no underlying mental illness other than debilitating PTSD was told they had used up their allotted 12 hours of publicly funded therapy);
- For reasons known only to them close an innovative program aimed at helping people with disabilities enter or re-enter the labour market: The program, EATI (Equipment and Assistive Technology Initiative) was, for a government program, remarkably sensible, adaptable and individually responsive. The staff assessed applicants to determine what obstacles prevented each one from gaining employment and then worked to address them on a case by case basis. I was one of the last people to go through the program. While I have not yet managed to secure full-time employment, (my efforts were temporarily derailed due to one of those plummeting dips that sometimes happen with an autoimmune disease), I now sit on a steering committee, a communications committee and volunteer with a medical school. Considering prior to EATI’s involvement I had not worked in any capacity for a number of years, this makes it one of the most successful interactions I’ve had with any program of any kind ever – disabled or not. Nonetheless, in August 2014, the BC Government closed the program. It is worth noting, that unlike the $100,000 I am now allowed to have (in my dreams), the MEDIA DID NOT COVER THE CLOSING OF THE PROGRAM.
- Maintains ‘financially prudent’ positions around medical equipment with hidden costs that likely far exceed the savings: Depending on your illness or type of disability you might be able to successfully alternate between a power chair and a manual one. If you can use a manual chair at all, it allows for physical exercise you might not otherwise have, which in turn can impact your health and quality of life. And yet, the government generally only funds one wheelchair. (Do you know what happens on a long weekend when your power chair stops working and you have no back up? Fire fighters crawl through your window- and you may or may not end up being taken by ambulance to the local hospital which then may have to admit you until your chair can be fixed thus costing those penny-pinching pontificating pinheads thousands more than a back-up chair would have. I won’t mention the risks to health and happiness because there is no key for those on government calculators.) The frequent fixes needed by some equipment may or may not be related to the fact that some government approved suppliers may or may not be providing ‘back of lot’ models at ‘front of showroom’ prices. * I was supplied (BC government paid for) a charger for a power chair that was, according to the manufacturer when I called to check the serial number, over a decade and half old;
- Leads The Caledon Institute in 2002 to release this report entitled: A New Era in British Columbia: A Profile of Budget Cuts Across Social Programs
- Who, also shortly after coming to power, cut home care so that people trying to live on their own (disabled and/or elderly) could no longer receive assistance with cooking, shopping or housecleaning. A wash and wipe is pretty much all that is left for those who need it.
- There’s so much more but my amygdala wants to throw things again so all I will say – for now – is:
Obviously the announced changes are a good thing – no one should have to sell their house and car before being eligible for support if they or a family member becomes disabled. And it is wonderful that someone on PWD can now get a birthday card with some cash in it without risking penalty.
But at the same time NO ONE ANYWHERE SHOULD THINK THE BC GOVERNMENT IS A FRIEND TO PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES!
Likely more cognitive comment to come later