Many Canadians stay at home under public health advice, with the federal government providing temporary income through Employment Insurance (EI) or the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).
However, people living in the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) or the Ontario Works (OW) program are not eligible, although they are in a situation where they need more support during this period.
“It seems strange to me (sigh) that the government has found all kinds of money to help all adults in Canada, except those with ODSP or OW, or the equivalent in other provinces” said Cait Glasson. She is an ODSP recipient living in the Waterloo region, and said the money she receives is not what many would remotely consider habitable.
Glasson receives $ 1,160 a month from the government, while rent for her apartment costs $ 1,050 per month, which was only made possible by having a roommate with her.
Meanwhile, CERB should provide $ 500 per week for up to 16 weeks (or $ 2,000 per month). The only additional relief Glasson and the other ODSP and OT recipients receive is the increase in the GST / HST credit that the others receive.
There is an emergency fund that has been created by the provincial government for people living with ODSP, but it is not much. The emergency benefit is a one-time payment of $ 100 for individuals and $ 200 for families. However, it does require people with ODSP to contact their social worker and justify why they need the money.
Originally, they offered $ 50 for individuals and $ 75 for families, before increasing.
Glasson also criticized the lack of communication about the availability of funds, having to know about its existence by asking New Democrat MP Laura Mae Lindo for support.
“We are not talking about a huge part of society here, so the additional cost would be as much, compared to the huge cost that is already being borne to provide this income to people anyway. “
“We could, for a change, offer a living wage for at least the life of the coronavirus, as everyone has. “
Glasson says people living with ODSP are most severely affected by the pandemic. Those with personal care workers find it difficult to acquire masks and gloves. Others have existing medical conditions, which may not receive immediate care due to the referral of hospitals to the response to COVID-19. In some cases, people living with ODSP are immunosuppressed and are most at risk.
She also points out that those with mental health issues were significantly affected during this time.
The World Health Organization released a report in March that people living with disabilities may be more significantly affected by COVID-19. The organization also recommended that governments consider short-term financial support during the pandemic.