We here in ONTARIO are just a few days away from another provincial election. Maybe I am cynical (OK…I admit yes..I AM cynical) but I find myself wondering – is there any point? What real difference will this election make? Does ANY political party in this province CARE about real issues? Would ANY political party in this province do the RIGHT THING? For that matter, does any political party in our COUNTRY care about their responsibility, or their ability, to assist the most needy people in our society here in Canada? The homeless, elderly, sick, poor, or disabled? At election time there might be some promises that are later unfulfilled. Because the responsibility to serve the least among us is expensive, challenging, and not politically supported.
BUT that responsibility, that ability, in my mind, is a fundamental purpose of government. One of the key reasons governments exist I believe is to ensure the safety and well being of vulnerable citizens. In our times today, I suspect that responsibility and capacity has been overshadowed, overlooked. It has been the victim of the numbers game of getting re-elected, the victim of the drive for power. It has been lost to the lawyers, lost in the fear of legal liability and its associated costs. Our politicians today have had their true vision, their true strength obscured by bling. So what can we do, as little guys, as advocates of a more traditional and less monetary, self-seeking set of values? How can we make a difference to our own vulnerable?
I am not sure we can. But here is what I suggest: When your MPP-would-be knocks on your door – ask him or her, what would he/she do, if they discovered they had a child who was always going to be cognitively 2 years old and would never be independent. What would they do, with their infant, child or teen, if they had to provide 24/7 caregiving, but received little or no funding, support, assistance, programs or even information where to get them because of disjointed service provision? What if, even if they could find funding or programs, they could not access them, because of an arbitrary definition, because of a wait list, because they lived in a region for which assistance was over subscribed, because they had equity in their home? Mortgage the house? Fine but what if they had other children who wanted to go to university, if they had no pension plan (they need to stretch the imagination here – pretend they are not a public servant) and their paltry savings for their future had to be withdrawn to fund expensive private intervention programs not covered by any provincial or private medical plan? What would they do? What would they do if they had to return home at 2:30 in the afternoon to provide caregiving to a disabled child? Because their child’s school day is done at 2:30pm, and there are no after-school programs available/willing to take him/her because of the severity of disability? No funding either? What if they have no family to help out? How would they be able to function as YOUR MPP? Because it could happen to anybody. So why elect somebody who is unable to provide answers for that situation?
Ask your MPP to consider the future. We all want a home, for ourselves, for our children. But for our special needs kids – the wait list is, around here, 20 years (once they turn 18) So under this scenario the child will be 38 when he/she MIGHT get a place to call their own. In all liklihood it will take longer, potentially years longer. A little math tells you that, best case scenario, you will be 76 when you finally have an empty next. Or older. And as for your finances, all this time, from when your child was 18 to present, for 20 years or more, the disability pension of slightly over 800/month only covered only 8 days per month of your adult day programs (mostly private at $100/day). Tell your candidate that he/she is a hero, for having faced challenges that few understand, but who now, in final years, is a martyr facing poverty! What would he/she do as MPP? Would she help herself or other like her?
In this province today nobody realizes that they have no social safety net until they need one. We need to tell our elected officials that such things are considered basic rights, from our taxes, from our history as a compassionate society. We don’t care about e-crap-services, orange helicopters, corrupted contracts with provisions that could potentially affect negatively our taxpayers. WE WANT TO TAKE CARE OF OUR OWN here in this province. If you agree with me – then ask your MPP-would-be – where they stand on the issue of care for our vulnerable society members.