In­come sup­port clients de­nied hu­man rights, says writer

The Compass - - OPINION - — Wanda White writes from Broad Cove, Con­cep­tion Bay North

New­found­land and Labrador in­come sup­port clients are be­ing de­nied ba­sic hu­man rights on so many lev­els as com­pared to the level of care of­fered to in­come sup­port clients in other prov­inces.

The mone­tary amounts which they re­ceive is less than half the poverty level. For two adults with no chil­dren they re­ceive less than $10,000 per year to main­tain their home, with ad­e­quate heat, warm cloth­ing, pay bills, and buy nu­tri­tious foods. This amount is far from ad­e­quate.

This, in turn, is re­sult­ing in higher doc­tor vis­its (when they can get there) due to in­creased rates of ill­nesses in­clud­ing hy­per­ten­sion, vi­ta­min de­fi­cien­cies, mal­nour­ish­ment, heart at­tacks and stroke from the worry of not hav­ing their ba­sic needs met. Schools are find­ing more and more chil­dren are go­ing to school hun­gry, re­sult­ing in poor at­ten­tion, dif­fi­culty con­cen­trat­ing in class, lower grades and poor health.

Many are go­ing with­out ad­e­quate heat in their homes dur­ing the fall, win­ter and spring or hav­ing to choose be­tween heat or food, but not both. They re­ceive a $50 fuel al­lowance. This is caus­ing them to be sleep­ing in damp­ness, caus­ing bron­chi­tis, asthma, pneu­mo­nia and hos­pi­tal­iza­tion as well as mold on cloth­ing and walls and ceil­ings in their homes. (The aver­age heat­ing bill for a three bed­room home in win­ter is be­tween $300-$400 per month).

Oth­ers are be­ing de­nied re­im­burse­ment for trans­porta­tion to med­i­cal ap­point­ments un­til their ninth trip per month af­ter which they will be re­im­bursed for that ninth trip and only if the ap­point­ment is NOT within their re­gion and pre-ap­proved. (Trips cost be­tween $20 for travel of up to 15 kilo­me­tres, and $60 or more for travel over 100 km). How is some­one who only gets roughly $800 per month sup­posed to pay up­front for eight trips be­fore get­ting re­im­bursed, and then only for one trip?

Some pa­tients have to travel out­side the prov­ince for den­tal oral surgery af­ter oral sur­geons re­sign and 33 den­tists with­draw their on­call sta­tus pro­vid­ing af­ter hours emer­gency care.

There is cur­rently a cap on den­tal care of $150 per per­son per year in the prov­ince af­ter the den­tal care plan was deemed too suc­cess­ful. A cur­rent ex­trac­tion and X-ray will cost $150, if you’re lucky, per­haps more de­pend­ing on the con­di­tion of the teeth. To sug­gest to some­one who has mul­ti­ple tooth prob­lems that they wait till next year surely does not meet with dig­ni­fied treat­ment.

Fam­i­lies in gen­eral have to fight ev­ery sin­gle step of the way ev­ery time they ask the De­part- ment of Ad­vanced Ed­u­ca­tion and Skills for any­thing. A young preg­nant mother with autis­tic chil­dren does not need to be told she can­not have the things she needs for her chil­dren.

A dis­abled woman in a wheel­chair should not have to fight tooth and nail to see her doc­tor about her med­i­cal con­di­tion twice a month (if ) she needs it. This is not treat­ing th­ese in­di­vid­u­als with the dig­nity and re­spect that they de­serve.

Clients of AES re­port they are of­ten scared to come for­ward and com­plain for fear they will lose what lit­tle they do get. So they suf­fer in si­lence. They are afraid to go pub­lic be­cause more of­ten than not the re­sponse is dis­dain and dis­gust from the pub­lic. “They get more than enough,” or “they got it made on wel­fare, just sit back and watch the cheques roll in.”

No one who is on in­come sup­port chose to live like this. They are vic­tims of cir­cum­stance and their en­vi­ron­ment. Help them to re­gain their dig­nity and self-worth by start­ing an in­quiry into the pay­ment poli­cies and prac­tices of the Depart­ment of Ad­vanced Ed­u­ca­tion and Skills im­me­di­ately.

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