Welcome to 2022. It’s time to review, and begin anew.

Right off the bat, or in my case, the wheel, I want to say Happy 2022 to everyone. I hope that this year brings you happiness, good health, kindness, and an end to the pandemic once and for all.

Since this is the first full week of January, the holidays are over. At least for some of us. For PSW, healthcare workers, caregivers and more, many of them couldn’t get much-needed time off.

By now, we’ve all heard countless stories of staff shortages and how all caregivers, in general, are burned out. As a person with a disability with 24/7 care, this greatly concerns me, and I’m not the only one. I often get messages and read posts from other PWD on social media talking about how their PSW or Nurse never showed up, or they showed up exhausted and in no condition to work, which puts everyone at risk. Sadly, our concerns and pleas for help continue to be ignored, and it doesn’t stop there.

While we’re at it, let’s talk about ODSP.

Not many people are aware, but during the holidays, ODSP recipients receive two payments. The first one, as usual, is at the start of the month. The second payment is typically about two weeks later. The problem is that our next ODSP payment won’t be until the beginning of February.

All recipients of ODSP MUST wait a MONTH & A HALF to get paid.

This has been happening every year for as long as I can remember, and it NEEDS to stop now.

Most ODSP recipients can barely survive a month as it is, and some don’t make it. The lack of payment has led to an increase in people relying on food banks and other agencies for assistance. In turn, this also results in workers giving up some of their holidays to help others. While yes, they’re volunteers, they’re human. Every person deserves a break to relax and recharge.

As for ODSP and the healthcare staff shortages, most the blame should go to Doug Ford and his government’s incompetence. Their handling of Covid has put us all at an even greater risk. I firmly believe that we wouldn’t be in this mess if we had better leaders, and I’m also including Justin Trudeau, and our Mayor Jim Watson.

I have good news, though.

We already know that Jim Watson won’t be running again, which has opened the door to new Mayoral candidates. There’s an upcoming election on the provincial front, which takes place on June 2, 2022. I can say for sure that I won’t be voting for Doug Ford.

I encourage all PWD, along with everyone else, to vote him out.

Getting back to local.

As some of you know, I ran for Mayor in 2018. One of the reasons I did was to bring more awareness to people with disabilities and the issues we face at a local level.

An excellent example of an issue is concerns related to Para Transpo. At this point, I sound like a broken record, but that’s only because the city continues to refuse to put more money into Para Transpo. They seem to have an easier time pumping money into the LRT and buses. When it comes to Para Transpo, though, nope, forget about it.

People with disabilities should just be happy that we can get out. Right?

I’m almost convinced that’s why some people approach me and tell me that it’s good to see me out.

If the city of Ottawa put more money into Para Transpo, there would be more drivers and vehicles on the road, and users wouldn’t be delayed or left stranded.

My hope for 2022 is for people with disabilities to be taken more seriously. After all, whether you choose to admit it or not, we are all disabled somehow. There’s also a chance that any one of us can become even more disabled at any given moment.

I hate to sound grim, but it’s true.

With that in mind, all politicians and people, in general, need to put people with disabilities closer to the top of the list. Stop pretending that we don’t exist or belong here. If you think that we don’t belong here, you’re also saying that you don’t belong here, and neither does anyone else.

Cause as I said, we’re all disabled.

To go along with that, I’d like to see a pay increase to ODSP. Also, the month and a half between payments over the holidays need to stop. There’s no reason why we should have to wait. Banks and Canada Post still operate. If I’m able to receive my bill from Bell by email on Christmas Day, I should be able to get paid on January 1st, 2nd, or 3rd.

In closing, I quickly want to give a final update on #ParaTranspoInDecember. For the most part, Para Transpo ran smoothly. Please keep in mind that some Para Transpo riders don’t have access to a computer, social media, and are often afraid to speak up.

The fact that some are scared to speak up is another example of why things need to improve drastically.

Photo: Debby Hudson, Unsplash