I’m going to do something I hate to do in a blog. I’m going to shame myself publicly. Writing personal tales is something I find humiliating.
But I’m going to do it. Why? Because someone needs to say it.
Obviously, Mr. McGuinty—I’m not worth a can of tuna to you.
The measly 1% that you agreed to raise ODSP/OW rates this year, you are flushing in the name of “tightening the budget”. Mr. McGuinty I don’t know how much tighter I can make mine. I didn’t know being disabled was supposed to be a punishment.
Yes, this year I bought a computer because my old one was dying. Guilty as charged. I know from buying computers that you get what you pay for so I saved for 18 months to have $600 to spend. I have no TV, no radio, no CD or DVD player. All I have is a computer. Twice, due to emergencies I had to put off buying it in that 18 months.
Do you know what I went without for 18 months, Mr. McGuinty? All my long johns are full of holes. If you haven’t noticed, it’s cold in Canada. I own one nice towel with no holes that cost $2 at Value Village. I do not own one bra that I wouldn’t be embarrassed to be seen in at my doctor’s because the elastic has failed and they’re full of holes.
My transportation, an e-trike needs repairs. That’s how I used to find my groceries on sale and bring them home. It’s outside rusting right now because I can’t afford to pay to get it fixed. If my friend didn’t take me grocery shopping weekly I don’t know what I’d do.
I go nowhere unnecessary because it costs $6 to get there and back. I confess that two months ago I had a pizza because someone else bought it. I haven’t had a fresh vegetable in two weeks. My duvet is falling apart and I can’t replace it. I haven’t seen a movie in a theatre for over five years.
In my entire adult life I have not had a vacation.
Do you know what I bought myself for Christmas Mr. McGuinty? A good dish drainer. Because my old one kept leaking all over the counter. What did you get for Christmas, Mr. McGuinty?
Now let me tell you, Mr. McGuinty what I did to deserve that can of tuna.
I worked from the time I was 16. When young, I worked high risk security and investigations. There are people alive and paying you taxes today that might not be if I hadn’t broken up that domestic fight, stopped a man from blowing up his car and taking out the side of a building, investigated some wives’ allegations that their spouses were dangerous to themselves and children, and stopped a riot in a hallway where two families in adjacent apartments came out with blunt instruments and were about to beat each other to death when myself with some other guards came to break it up at great risk to ourselves.
For barely more than minimum wage. That’s just a few incidents off the top of my head.
When I was married I had foster kids some of whom I never saw a dime for, and worked, too. What’s that worth to you?
I rarely had any medical benefits other than OHIP. I paid expenses such as meagre dental and medications out of my pocket, saved my money, only ever collected EI two times in my whole working life and paid a fortune into it.
In later years when I could no longer tackle big men if I needed to—I went to school for social services. After all, I’d been dealing with difficult people all my life with panache, humour, understanding and when necessary, firmness. Good fit, right?
That threw me into a miasma of debt even though I worked the whole time, only to come out the other end working as many as three jobs to make ends meet. Contract work. When I could no longer rob Peter to pay Paul– I squatted in Tent City while I worked part time. When I got there I was 20 lbs underweight from starving myself for months to pay my bills.
When we were housed, no thanks to you, I might add—I went back to work full time but still, contracts.
After years of struggling inside and outside the systems, my body collapsed and my mind shattered.
I wound up on ODSP.
There are people ALIVE and well today Mr. McGuinty because I saved their lives. When I found people overdosing I did CPR until the ambulance came. I went through the dark alleys and found the lost, the hopeless. I tried to show them a place in this world that wasn’t quite so dark.
When they died or were murdered, I grieved.
Mine isn’t the only story like that out there, Mr. McGuinty.
I feel blessed because some people have it even worse. And some have done even more to earn that pittance called Ontario Disability. Some of them are freezing on the streets. Some are ex-cops, firefighters, social workers, veterans and other life-savers who have put their lives on the line to save others which is more than you will ever do.
Even those that have never been able to work are out there, volunteering, helping other people, generous with the gifts they bring even if their skills don’t pay.
Apparently, none of us are worth a can of tuna to you.