Challenged Hope

Grandmother raising Grandchildren with FASD in Hamilton Ontario Canada

Hello? Is anyone listening?

6 Comments

Does anyone really care?

Is it just me, or does the incident I experienced recently also shock others. I was so appalled by what I saw that I contacted The Hamilton (ON) Spectator newspaper, the ODS (Ontario Disability Services), the Hamilton mayor, Fred Eisenberger, Monique Taylor, NDP MPP for Hamilton Mountain, and Scott Duvall, MP for Hamilton Mountain, to get their reaction to the event.

A letter of concern

By reading the following email I sent to those recipients, you will discover what concerned me:

“During the past twenty years, I have raised four grandchildren with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: a severe disability caused by prenatal exposure to alcohol. So, you can imagine my horror when, on Tuesday, August 30th, 2016, I arrived at 119 King West with my granddaughter for an appointment, and saw a long line-up of people with disabilities outside the government building, waiting behind a sign clearly marked “ODSP Line-Up”. When I asked one person what they were lining up for, I discovered that ODSP cheques were being hand distributed due to the probability of a postal strike.

The area is precarious with heavy traffic, excessive noise, and bustling crowds, and that morning was no exception. Exposing people with disabilities to those elements in that manner undermined their safety and their right to privacy as ODSP recipients.

From my experiences raising grandchildren with mental health issues, I am fully aware of the intense disdain harbored by many in our city toward the mentally disabled. Such contempt makes them vulnerable targets in such situations. Given the intense challenges associated with organizing large gatherings of disabled persons, it only makes sense that outside line-ups on public streets should be avoided at all times.

I hope you seek the opportunity to ask the organizer of that planned line-up what they were thinking by putting convenience above the safety, and privacy of our citizens within the disabled community.”

I sent that email on August 31st 2016. On September 2nd, I received this reply from Mayor Eisenberger:

Hi Barbara,

Thank you for reaching out to me and I am sorry to hear of your recent experience at 119 King Street West. I have copied MPP Horwath’s office as the office is in her riding, and please again accept my apologies.

He’s right, I should have contacted MPP Horwath, as the incident happened in her riding, but despite the mayor forwarding my email to her office I have yet to hear from her, and wonder if I ever will. Neither has The Spectator, the ODS, nor the MPP or MP answered my email. So my question–Am I the only one shocked by such disregard toward individuals with disabilities?–remains unanswered. Perhaps, you, my blog reader, can answer that question for me. If you are a person with a disability, or are involved with one, I would love to hear your comment on this matter.

If you have never been involved with an individual with a disability, you might not fully understand, nor share my concern, so I have put the situation in perspective through the following illustration. Note the signs forcing people to reveal their medical information to all who happen be in the vicinity, which is what the ODSP office did to their recipients.

Disregard of Privacy

Disregard of Privacy

 

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Author: whereasi

I am a Grandmother raising Grandchildren with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Please read of our family struggles and challenges with this mental disorder at www.challengedhope.com. My memoirs: Two Decades Of Diapers, and, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: The Teen Years, are available from Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and other fine ebook distributors. I have also written fiction, including a six-book English seaside series, titled, Under the Shanklin sky. I am now embarking on a new adventure creating children's picture books. For all info, see my author blog at www.barbarastudham.com.

6 thoughts on “Hello? Is anyone listening?

  1. Hi Barbara, I don’t blame you for being appalled by seeing all those people lining up for their cheques one bit. Having a disability is bad enough let alone being publicly displayed like cows going in for the slaughter. I am sure that would be very humiliating, intimidating and disturbing for some of them. Surely, they can come up with a way for all those people to collect their cheques in a less invasive manner! The best way is to have it deposited into a bank account. Although, it is not easy and straight forward to do that anymore. I had helped someone several years ago to get a bank account so his cheque could be automatically deposited every month. I was an awful experience! The person hadn’t had an account in years and I had to sign verifying that all his ID was his etc. It was too crazy! I do hope that Andrea Howarth gets back to you regarding this situation and this ridiculous lining up on the street situation gets resolved. You go girl!😀

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    • Thanks for your comment, Marilyne. Why does life have to be so difficult for people with disabilities re: getting paid, opening a bank account, applying for services, etc. I recently helped someone apply for ODSP, and used the on-line service, which I know people with mental health issues would find difficult to complete. It is as if the government wants to make it as difficult as possible so individuals applying will get overwhelmed and give up, thereby saving taxpayers money, but, unfortunately, that often results in homelessness for the disabled individual.

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  2. Barbara, I wish I could offer more than just my heartfelt concern for those with disabilities. I most certainly see your point. But the wheels in gov, newspapers etc turn so darn slowly. You can bet your letter goes through various hands before it gets to the person you’re trying to reach e.g. MPP Horvath. I truly hope that sooner or later you will hear from her; let’s hope it’s not too much later. As for the Spec? Next?

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    • Thanks for your comment, Viga. Yes, waiting is the difficult part. The government works at a snails pace, much like the resources for the disabled as the waiting lists are horrendously long.

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  3. Barbara, I have 2 children on ODSP…and I well remember how stressed they were when the possibility of the mail strike was being discussed. Fortunately for my 2 they are able to maintain a bank account, and so the possibility of heading down to the local office to pick up their cheque was not necessary, they did have serious and valid concerns….the line up would have been incredibly stressful for my one child, the wait time was an issue for the other. Both were bothered by the lack of privacy that having to stand in that line would give. I very often wish that for a month those in power had to live on an ODSP cheque…..I would hope it would open eyes and funds….a window into the world of those that struggle….

    Here’s hoping that you are able to get some conversation going….although I imagine resolution will be long in coming….

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    • Thank you for your comment, Eilish. Having a bank account with direct deposit is one solution, but during my granddaughter’s appointment, I asked the caseworker why that couldn’t be implemented for ODSP recipients to avoid such invasions of privacy. I was told it will be mandatory in the near future, but it is very difficult for some people on ODSP to open and maintain an account, which is understandable. However, that does not excuse whomever decided that the ODSP line-up was acceptable. You are right, a resolution will be long in coming, if at all! — Barbara

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