Can you imagine being told that you have only $375.00 per month with which you need to find shelter in Vernon while the average cost of a one bedroom in B.C. outside of Vancouver is $768.00? Can you also imagine doing this when your mind and/or body is not functioning correctly and you need medication to help you just to make it through the day? This is just the beginning plight of people who live as a Person with Disabilities (PWD).
People on PWD receive $906.42 per month. This is $10872 per year and is well below the poverty line. This is also significantly below the Low Income Cut Offs (LICO) established by Statistics Canada. But do we speak up? Most of us are not able to due to the stigma associated with a disability. Many are afraid to lose what we have, even though financially we cannot afford to feed ourselves. We are not able to eat a healthy diet according to the Canada Food Guide. The money that is allotted to us by the PWD designation for food is being spent on shelter. Matters get worse yet because every year as there are increases in rent from Landlords, there is no cost of living increase on PWD. That means even more money allocated to food goes to shelter costs.
The Disabilities without Poverty Network is advocating for persons on PWD to receive $1200.00 per month. This brings the person up to the poverty line and is what a senior on Old Age Security and Guaranteed Income Supplement receives.
There has been a change to what a person on PWD can earn separate from receiving support. Previously a single person could earn $500.00 per month and now it has been changed to $800.00 per month. This is like a slap in the face for persons on PWD. If a person were well enough to work, why would we be on a disability.
There is enough stigma and coping with having a disability without the great stress of making it to the next disability cheque or to even have a healthy meal. Thankfully to the groups involved with Disabilities without Poverty Network we have more voices of advocacy. But I want to do more as a person on PWD by bringing these issues to you. I am just one person but I believe that by encouraging the breaking of silence that help can be obtained. The Disabilities without Poverty Network has 3 recommendations to make changes for persons on PWD.
1. Increase the PWD benefit to $1,200 per month.
2. Index the PWD benefit. This will ensure that the PWD benefit keeps pace with the rising cost of living and that inflation does not erode the ability of PWD recipients to meet their basic needs.
3. Establish a shelter assistance program for people with disabilities. They propose the introduction of a rental assistance program for people with disabilities similar to the SAFER (Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters) and RAP (Rental Assistance Program).
Being disabled in any way on PWD should not have to be a life sentence of poverty. We who have been diagnosed with a disability do not have to live by past stigmas and live silently in pain. We in Canada can have hope for a better and more secure life. I am thankful that I live in Canada as I believe people with disabilities have a voice. For more information about the Disabilities without Poverty Network go thttp://www.bccpd.bc.cam. Please email this petition to family and friends. Lets make this an election issue.
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