Let’s All Try to Better Understand Each Other’s Battles

ABOVE: Ryan Lythall supported the federal workers' desire to work from home. He only wishes they would advocate for low-income and unhoused Canadians. (PHOTO: FRED RUHERFORD)

Before I roll into this week's article, I want to update you regarding my suction catheter situation.

Some of you may recall that last week, I wrote about how I had issues regarding a shortage of suction catheters and medical supplies, so much so that I went to the ER to see if they had any suction catheters available.

I’m pleased to say that I received twelve boxes of suction catheters last Tuesday from Medigas. I didn’t expect to receive so many; it was a pleasant surprise, almost like Christmas.

A very weird Christmas indeed.

Twelve boxes of suction catheters should last about three months. There are fifty catheters in each box. One box typically lasts about five or six days. Depending on how much secretions I have in my lungs.

I also want to thank those concerned about my suction catheter situation. Some were surprised to find out about the process regarding ordering medical supplies. It can often feel like jumping through hoops to ensure I get the necessary medical supplies.

In the case of suction catheters and other supplies related to my breathing, or lack thereof, I do my best to place an order monthly. Often, items are unavailable at the time of order and are placed on backorder. When that happens, I typically receive a call or an email from Medigas to arrange the item's delivery.

In the case of last Tuesday's delivery, the driver called to let me know that a delivery was on the way, but they didn’t know what it was.

A large box arrived later that afternoon. I was thrilled to see that it was suction catheters.

So, what’s next?

I now have enough suction catheters for a few months. Soon, I will place an order with Medigas and hope the suction catheters will be in stock. If not, I’ll be in another situation.

As I mentioned last week, I may need to order from a different supplier, so I may have to pay out of pocket. As a person on ODSP, any extra costs are challenging.

It’s scary, but that's where we’re heading. I believe that more and more people will be required to pay for their medical supplies. Medical supplies are a necessity, much like food and shelter. If we don't have these things, people with disabilities and those with medical needs who live in the community will be forced to either ask for cash donations or end up in hospital emergency rooms.

Each time a person goes to the hospital emergency room for something that could have been dealt with at home, that person takes up valuable space and resources that could have been used for someone else. Along with that is the cost of spending time in the hospital emergency room.

It’s more expensive for the government to pay for a person’s trip or stay in a hospital emergency room than for the person to receive the same treatment at home.

I honestly don’t understand why they don’t seem to understand that.

We live in a country where most striking federal workers have just reached an agreement, primarily over wages, with the government. Personally, that whole situation angers me.

Workers should be allowed to work from home, which should be standard practice. In my case, and for others who work from home, we probably wouldn’t be able to work. So, I’m thankful for the opportunity.

Now, regarding the wage increase for federal workers, I have an issue with that. Besides myself, I know several other people on ODSP are struggling to survive.

While I realize that ODSP is provincially run, the issue of people with disabilities struggling to survive and the unhoused has been a federal issue for years. In my opinion, that should be the federal government's primary focus instead of focusing on higher wages for their employees.

Last week, I posted my opinion on social media about the federal workers’ strike. Many quickly said that PSAC workers are fighting for everyone, including those living on low incomes. Because of that, people on ODSP should join the protest and demand more money and support from the government.

Unfortunately, it does not work that way. Another thing that people pointed out is that we need to understand each other better. I agree with that on a certain level.

The thing is, though, in all of the news coverage about the federal workers’ strike over the past two weeks, I haven’t heard a single person talk about those struggling on low-income and the unhoused, and they’re fighting for them too.

Not a single word.

I’ve attended several rallies to increase the money people on ODSP receive. Besides the rare appearance of a politician giving a speech, and a photo-op, no other federal worker has been seen at the rallies. I don't know about you, but it doesn’t seem like most federal workers want to take the time to truly understand our struggles and needs.

The same can be said about the media. If newscasts devoted more time to reporting on the plight of those on low income, and the unhoused, there would be a better understanding of our stories,

And maybe, just maybe, together, we can make a difference.