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.
The Government of Alberta has announced its intention to put forward a plan that encourages people to refrain from giving money to panhandlers, and instead to give those resources to agencies serving people who are homeless.
While many people may be annoyed at the sight of panhandlers, we need to dig a little deeper to understand what is driving this initiative. At the root of many people’s negative responses to panhandling are prejudices about homeless people, and why they panhandle in the first place. Is this same prejudice driving government policy?
The Alberta Minister of Housing and Urban Affairs Jonathan Denis says: “Most people think if they are giving to panhandlers they are helping the problem, but they are hurting the problem. Almost 80% of money going to panhandlers goes to negative habits — drugs, alcohol, gambling — anything that can be destructive.” Continue reading →