’Tis not the season for people on ODSP.

Happy December!

I say that with a wee bit of sarcasm. For many, including myself, December is a stressful month. I dare say the most stressful month of the year.

Shopping malls are busy, both with Black Friday in November and now, the holiday season. Along with that, people are baking tasty treats and planning to spend time with friends, family, or partner(s). Perhaps travel plans are also involved.

Then, there’s the sad part.

For many, the holidays remind us of loved ones that are no longer with us to share the holidays. Whether they moved away, broke up, or passed away, the season can be a harsh reminder of those who are no longer here or near us.

I’m right there with you.

I lived in a hospital for nineteen years. The worst part was losing friends due to various medical conditions. I still think about them every day. In some cases, we spent several holiday seasons together. When you live in a hospital, it goes with the territory.

Then, there are family members as well that we’ve all lost.

For those of us on ODSP, December and January are especially difficult.

During the holidays, we only receive two payments. Our first payment is at the beginning of December, and our second payment is in the middle of the month.

People on ODSP DON’T Receive ANY payment in January.

It’s a little-known fact that others either aren’t aware of or forget.

Each month and each day are a struggle for us. We are often forced to decide whether we have enough money for food, rent, or bills.

So, how are we supposed to manage without getting paid for over a month?

Many either turn to food banks or give up. It’s been that way for many years, and things will get worse by the looks of it.

Our government doesn’t care about people with disabilities or those in need. By now, we’ve all heard that food banks and charities have seen an enormous increase in demand.

For a little while, the pandemic was easy to blame. While, yes, the effects of the pandemic will be felt for many years to come, that’s no longer the only reason.

The cost of living has substantially increased for everybody. Whether it’s food, rent, utilities, clothing, or fuel, we are all paying more.

Recently. we’ve heard about education workers going on strike because they’re unhappy, mainly due to not being paid what they feel they deserve.

My question is, how can they ask for more money while forcing parents to stay home from work if they don’t get their demands met?

While some may argue, at the end of the day, CUPE and the government eventually reach a deal.

Meanwhile, those of us on ODSP have no other choice but to accept what we’re given.

Don’t get me wrong; education workers play a vital role when it comes to children, especially those with special needs. Just dealing with kids, in general, is a job in itself. As I pointed out earlier, by forcing parents to stay home, parents and single parents aren’t getting paid, which leads to even more people struggling.

We should do what we can to make life easier.

In general, there seems to be a lack of compassion and understanding these days.

It’s easy for a person to say that they understand, but soon after, they confuse the word want with the word need.

For example, a person doesn’t NEED to see Taylor Swift. While it would be nice to have that experience, they don’t need to. They’re still going to wake up the next day relatively unscathed.

What you need, and what we all need, are food, shelter, warm clothing, along with other necessities. For many on ODSP, those necessities are challenging and sometimes impossible.

We should take more time to think about those in need during the holiday season and every day.

Check in on your neighbours, friends, family, and even strangers. Instead of ignoring people asking for spare change, give them what you can, or talk to them. Ask them what they need, and see if you can help even if you cannot afford to give money.

There are many ways that we can help those in need.

Together, we can make life easier, not just for those in need, but for everyone.