People with disabilities would generally prefer not to have to rely on income support such as Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH) or other disability benefits.
Again, most people prefer not to deal with a disability at all.
In a previous column, I noted how the provincial government is failing vulnerable Albertans by not increasing disability benefits.
Since this column was published, people living in the disability community have told me that it is not just the province that is failing people with disabilities.
According to a person living on AISH, he can only receive this benefit until he is 65 years old.
Once they reach that age, they are taken off that income support and transferred to old age security.
The problem is that while it’s hard to get by with AISH, the disability amount being well below the poverty line, the old age security pension is even worse.
This problem is compounded by the fact that drug coverage for the elderly varies by region, if jurisdictions have any coverage at all.
A person, currently on AISH, who will move to old age pension in the next five years has been told that unless there is an increase by then, his income will be reduced to between $600 and $1,300 a month, with a minimal medication. cover.
At best, it’s a $400 drop from the AISH award. At worst, it drops revenues by nearly two-thirds.
There are two glaring problems here.
First, disabilities do not magically disappear when a person turns 65.
If anything, illnesses, disabilities, and other illnesses are likely to get worse, not better, so cutting someone when they’re even more vulnerable is just plain cruel and punitive for no good reason.
Second, the message that the federal government and the provinces are sending to seniors, to the people who built this country, is that they don’t matter.
England’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Matthew Rycroft, said during a Security Council debate: “How a society treats its most vulnerable is always the measure of its humanity.”
If this is indeed a true measure of a society’s humanity, Alberta and Canada as a whole get a failing grade.
What is frustrating is that the government knows where the poverty line is. When the government introduced the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), payments for people were around $2,000 because the government knew that was the bare minimum most people needed to make it out.
I understand, social programs cost money. I see the advantage of balancing the books of the province and the country.
But I also believe in treating people with humanity and compassion, which no government does with the most vulnerable.
Our governments must do better.
We need to stop leaving the most vulnerable behind.