Man with disability raises $600K as street beggar

Would Jesus or Charles Dickens notice the difference in how people with disabilities are utilized in Canada today

His name is Muki Baum, he has cerebral palsy, he's deaf and can barely speak. Yet for almost 20 years he's been fundraising outside Holt Renfrew for people with disabilities. His tally to date is a staggering $600,000. VINCE TALOTTA/TORONTO STAR

Muki Baum is a man severely disabled by Cerebral Palsy who has raised $600,000 begging on the streets of Toronto outside posh stores like Holt Renfrew.

Donna Thompson, wife of Canada’s High Commissioner to the UK, argues in The Four Walls of My Freedom that we are not valuing people like Muki Baum.

The Toronto Star reports Mr. Baum raised this money day-after-day for charities like Wheels in Motion and the March of Dimes. He has done it for 20 years.

It’s a wonderful story of triumph over adversity and personal sacrifice.

It’s also the saddest commentary on how little Canadian society values people with disabilities.

Mr. Baum is not alone.

Many Canadians with moderate to severe disabilities are not employed and resort to street begging to survive.

Mr. Baum is not limited in intelligence but his appearance, mobility and verbal limitations make him fit for the lowest level of activity.

Continue reading Man with disability raises $600K as street beggar

RDSP fails to help Canadians with disabilities

Canadians not taking advantage of disability savings

Prime Minister Harper, RDSP benefits few Canadians except ultra rich

The Registered Disability Savings Plan, a gem in the crown of the Harper government’s social policies, has been a failure in helping Canadians with Disabilities.

If Prime Minister Harper wanted to help Canadians with disabilities he could implement many of the well researched proposals to end poverty and provide disability supports. Complicated schemes like the RDSP that target the ultra rich are of little value.

Recent survey sponsored by the Bank of Montreal shows only 5% of Canadians with disabilities have a tax sheltered savings plan for people with disabilities.

RDSP’s are focused on the upper income parents of children with disabilities who have disposable income available for savings after their own RRSP savings.

Most Canadians with a disabled dependent are spending their money on disability supports and medical costs. 95% of them don’t have any additional money for RDSP savings.

A recent Caledon study found a high percentage of Canadians with disabilities are living in poverty. Anyone living on the $9,000 annual income from CP Disability is not a potential saver.   Continue reading RDSP fails to help Canadians with disabilities

The obscenity of CBC turkey drives

Phony annual charity drive illustrates how little has been done to reduce poverty

Merry Christmas from CBC, sorry you're life is not so merry

Nothing is more obscene than the pampered people at CBC with their annual do-gooder turkey drive. CBC wastes it’s considerable resources attacking the wrong end of the stick.

Do they think one turkey at Christmas will alleviate the crushing weight of poverty or is this all just another WKRP radio station publicity stunt?

If the folks at CBC really carried about Christmas and the message of Christ, they would use their considerable resources to report stories about the reality of PEI’s poverty problem.

A short stint of real reporting at CBC would inform the public and embarrass the government into fixing the problem once and for all.

Dr. Robert Coull wrote that charity drives make him angry. “The need for charity is something that makes me very angry.  It reminds me that our society is unjust.  The poor continue to be poor, while the rich get richer.  Rich people ‘feeling good’ about giving a few dollars or a few hours of their time to the ‘deserving poor’ is something I would love to see the end of.”   Continue reading The obscenity of CBC turkey drives

Will UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities mean anything on PEI

PEI celebrates the day with plagiarism, pontificating and prevarication

Minister of Community Services, Seniors and Labour Janice Sherry, press release to follow

The world celebrates UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities. On Prince Edward Island, we can look forward to political hot air.

The appropriate minister will rise in the Legislature to acknowledge her love for and empathy with the situation of Islanders living with disabilities. Those speeches are fulsome, with profound words that puff up those who listen.  In reality, they are hollow with pontificating and prevarication.  Continue reading Will UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities mean anything on PEI

UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities and all is not well in Canada

Two decades of neglect by government leaves many living with disabilities further behind and living in poverty

The UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities may be a publicity stunt or a grim reminder to many of the 4 million Canadians living with disabilities that they are locked in last place in the Canadian experience.

The UN press release says “The Day aims to promote a better understanding of disability issues with a focus on the rights of persons with disabilities and gains to be derived from the integration of persons with disabilities in every aspect of the political, social, economic and cultural life of their communities. The goal of full and effective participation of persons with disabilities in society and development was established by the World Programme of Action concerning Disabled Persons, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1982.” UN Enable

How good is life for people with disabilities in Canada?  Continue reading UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities and all is not well in Canada

Basic Income Could Eliminate Poverty

Changes to benefit system would replace welfare for working age people with disabilities

Continue reading Basic Income Could Eliminate Poverty

Minister responsible for disability has inaccessible office

Ironically Federal Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development Diane Finley has inaccessible constituency office

Federal Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development Diane Finley (photo Government of Canada)

Bob Speller, Liberal candidate in the Haldimand-Norfolk riding, blasted Federal Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development Diane Finley for having an office that is not wheelchair accessible.

“She keeps making announcements saying the government is doing so much for the disabled, but she doesn’t seem to care in her own riding that they don’t have access,” said Speller. “It goes to show she’s not serious about the issue. She should be setting an example. This is embarrassing.” (Cnews.canoe.ca)

The access to Finley’s office is by way of a set of stairs and a barrier at the door. People in wheelchairs cannot navigate stairs or door sills.

“Bob Speller is simply trying to distract from the dismal Liberal record on helping person with disabilities,” said a statement from Finley’s office. “In fact, Michael Ignatieff’s Liberals are constantly voting against support for persons with disabilities such as when they voted against the creation of the historic Registered Disabilities Saving Plan and the Enabling Accessibility Fund.”

That’s cold comfort to her constituents who must make an appointment with Finley and meet her off-site, perhaps at Tim Horton’s.

The lack of accessible office space is the tip of the iceberg for Finley, who despite her own vision impairment has little sympathy for Canadians living with disabilities.

Yes she piloted the Registered Disabilities Saving Plan through Parliament. That helps the children of upper-middle class Canadians save for the time when the parents have passed on. Those lucky few children with disabilities, then adults, face the bleak future of struggling to exist in Canada’s disability wasteland. The program is useless for most Canadians with disabilities who are struggling to survive.  Where are they going to find disposable income to save for their childrens’ income?   Continue reading Minister responsible for disability has inaccessible office

Disability and poverty go hand in hand

Many Canadians assume people with disabilities are well provided for. Few understand that disability and poverty are synonymous. Disability can lead to poverty and poverty can lead to disability.

Harry Wolbert, disability activist

By HARRY WOLBERT, For the Winnipeg Sun

In less than a year, Manitobans, and possibly Canadians, will again head to the polls.

There are certain issues that are bound to surface again. They are poverty, housing and the closure of institutions for people with disabilities.

Disability poverty is an unacknowledged reality. Advocates and disability organizations have been calling for social policy reforms that would eradicate poverty.

One of the proposed reforms is for the introduction of a Basic Income Plan for Canadians with severe disabilities. The foundation of this plan is a new federal Basic Income program that would replace provincial and territorial social assistance for most working age people with severe disabilities. The disability community is also asking Ottawa to covert the existing non-refundable disability tax credit into a refundable disability tax credit.   Continue reading Disability and poverty go hand in hand

Disability Community Needs PALS in 2011

Scrapped mandatory census cuts even deeper for disability advocacy group

Laurie Beachell, national co-ordinator of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities

Council of Canadians with Disabilities – Statistics Canada’s Participation and Activity Limitation Survey (PALS) is the most important and comprehensive source of disability statistics in Canada and is seen as a best practice model internationally. CCD is concerned that Human Resources Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) has not yet committed funding for a PALS for the 2011 census.

It is crucial that PALS continue so that governments and community have the information and research needed to develop good policy and programs. It should be noted that upon ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Canada will be obligated to collect data on the socioeconomic status of persons with disabilities.

PALS and its predecessor HALS have been, and remain, extremely valuable survey tools. No other survey provides the range and depth of statistically reliable information about:

Continue reading Disability Community Needs PALS in 2011

You are one paycheck away from poverty

Being on social assistance is often the result of mid-life disability over which people have no control

A recent Guardian Commentary resurrected some of the negative stereotypes of the past, quoting,

“Social Services, on the other hand, deals with the failures and fall-outs from all other social systems, beginning with dysfunctional families and going on to where health, education, attorney general (corrections), and community services have failed.”

In one sentence, the writer characterized those on social services as “failures”. “fall-outs”, “dysfunctional”, and rejects from prison. What is he thinking?

This is so far from the truth it is an affront to people who need social assistance to survive. For PEI’s disability community, social assistance is often the only way they survive from month to month. The problem exists across Canada and only varies in severity by Province.

Continue reading You are one paycheck away from poverty