Digital watercolour painting of Michael rendered in reddish browns for Michael and light green - grey for the background. Michael smiles at the camera while he sits on a log at the beach. His phone is in his left hand and his right hand is in his lap. Behind him is the ocean and mountains, and some people walking in the distance. He is middle aged, Caucasian, and wears sunglasses, a brown t-shirt, black shorts, dark running shoes and a an orthotic leg brace on his right leg.  He is bald with gray and white hair.

Please share about yourself, your experience with the Disability Assistance Benefit, and anything else you would like people to know.

I was born with Sturge Webber Syndrome. I had operation when I was three years old that removed the region of brain where seizures were coming from. Since that time my right hand and foot has not worked and I have no right side peripheral vision. I have been on disability assistance since I was 19 years old. I got a job with Mission Possible in 2016 and have been employed ever since.

Before I got my current job I had a very hard time making ends meet. I had a very hard time finding a place to live, I rarely paid my bills on time, and I depended on money from members of my family to feed my self. I have had a very hard time finding any kind of employment up until recently. When I was in my twenties I decided to go back to school because of this. I have a university degree but my job has nothing to do with it. The medical coverage offered by the government works for my needs, prescriptions are covered, they pay for eye glasses every three years and orthotics like leg braces are paid for. The one complaint I would have is the inadequate dental coverage.

It has been my experience that many landlords do not consider disability assistance a valid source of income. In the past few years it has been an uphill battle to find any place to go when I have had to move. Another part is the ridiculously low amount the government provides people to live on. I am tired of living very close to high crime areas because that is the only option available to me. I want to live like an adult in housing situation of my choice, to have a wife or not without fear of being punished* for doing something that is clearly looked down on by the people to write the rules.

If you succeed, your reward is being put back into the same situation. I think that the government is far too fast acting when it comes to reducing income assistance payments. I think Disabilty Assistance should not be an connected the same ministry as IA (Income Assistance).

What do you dream support for people with disabilities could look like?

I would like to see all people with disabilities be able to participate fully in society. I would like to see everyone who is able to work have a job. I would like the province to not punish clients or their income support programs for people with disabilities for being successful. For those who are not capable of holding down a job, they should have enough to live comfortably in the home of their choice.

Likes / Loves:

I grew up with cats in the house. My favorite colour is green. I love hockey and baseball. I am always walking.

* People with disabilities who are married or live in common law relationships lose out financially. Two adults with disabilities who are married or common law have their benefit combined, losing $113.78 from the benefit and $180 from the shelter allowance.

Published by rozmaclean

B.C. based artist

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