Updated: Oct 14, 2018
According to Statistics Canada, nearly a quarter of Canadians with disabilities live in poverty - more than twice the rate for non-disabled Canadians. This number increases for Canadians with multiple and 'severe' disabilities - more than 35 percent of whom live below the poverty line.
The Ontario government recently cut a planned increase to disability benefit rates, and cancelled the province's basic income pilot programme.
Meanwhile, many Canadian cities are facing dramatic inflation of rental rates. Last year, an editorial in The Toronto Star noted that the average cost of living for a single person in Ontario exceeds the maximum rate of ODSP benefits by more than 200 dollars per month. And this ignores the fact that many people receiving ODSP do not receive anywhere near that maximum rate.
Disabled people living in poverty are often forced into living situations that are unsafe or inaccessible. They experience social and geographic isolation, which can make it difficult or impossible to access needed services, medical care and employment.
Disabled Canadians also face homelessness at more than twice the rate of non-disabled Canadians. As noted recently by the disability rights advocacy group Rooted in Rights, homelessness is a disability justice issue.
During this town hall, we will be discussing the topic of poverty, gentrification & homelessness.
We have prepared one set of questions for the mayoral candidates for #HamOnt, and another set of questions that apply broadly to disabled people, regardless of where they are currently living.
To make it easier for people to follow the discussion, the @djnontario account will only be tweeting out the chat questions, and retweeting the responses from the candidates, while the town hall is taking place.
We would also like to ask that you reply to the tweeted questions, rather than quote-tweeting them, as this can make the conversation easier to follow, and therefore more accessible, for some people.
We are aware that Twitter chats are not accessible for everyone. To keep the conversation as easy to follow as possible, this account will only be tweeting out the chat questions, and the responses from candidates, during the chat itself. We'll be liking tweets throughout, but will hold off on retweeting responses from the community until after the chat to keep our feed as easy to read as possible. (You can still see other people's responses in real-time by following the #CripTheVote hashtag.)
For those who cannot participate, we will also be updating the DJNO blog, at djno.ca/blog, with a summary of each discussion, the day after the event.
Some of the content of tonight's discussion may be triggering for some people. If you are discussing traumatic experiences, please try to include the appropriate content warnings.
You can do this by adding the text "CW: [topic or keyword]" to the start of your tweet.
And if you find yourself becoming distressed or overwhelmed during tonight's discussion, please feel free to take a break or mute the hashtag for your wellbeing. Above all, take care of yourself!
This town hall is scheduled to be 90 minutes long.
Questions for the community
[The time indicated in brackets after each question corresponds to the time this question will be posted on Twitter, during the town hall on Monday, October 15th]
1. Welcome, and thanks for joining us. Please introduce yourself! [6:00pm]
2. A recent article in @TheSpec notes that, “The usual concern is that [gentrification] may cause displacement and prevent lower-income households from moving into an area that might have suited them.”
It goes on to state that, “Hamilton is not in that position, yet, not even close. There are still many neighbourhoods, in the Lower City and also on the Mountain, that contain housing that is relatively affordable, relative, that is, to other areas in the city.”
https://www.thespec.com/opinion-story/8573179-gentrification-poses-challenges-to-hamilton-but-none-that-the-city-can-t-address/ Disabled people frequently have specific access and accommodation needs. How might gentrification within a particular neighbourhood affect them differently than it does non-disabled people? How can we ensure that analyses of gentrification are accounting for the specific access needs and experiences of disabled residents? [6:10pm]
3. Have your particular access needs made it difficult for you to find housing? How has that affected you? [6:20pm]
4. Have you ever experienced discrimination as a disabled person, when seeking to rent from a private landlord? How did that affect you? Were you able to report that discrimination? [6:30pm]
5. Have you ever tried to access community support or crisis services in relation to your housing situation? Were you able to get the help you needed? Why or why not? [6:40pm]
6. Have you ever been homeless? What was / is that experience like? Were you, or have you been able to access emergency shelter and / or support services during that time? [6:50pm]
7. How has living in poverty affected your health and your disabilities? What kinds of services do you think could help to lessen this impact? [7:00pm]
8. Keeping in mind that some disabled people are unable to work, and that working should not be a requirement for people to enjoy a good quality of life – there are also some disabled people who actively seek employment, but are unsuccessful due to discrimination from employers.
As in the case of housing, this discrimination is often not explicit, but reveals itself in the patterns of responses disabled jobseekers receive when they are able to choose not to disclose their disabilities, versus when they do.
Moreover, the employment protections offered by the #AODA are very limited, and do not directly address issues of discrimination. Have you experienced discrimination as a disabled jobseeker? What kinds of initiatives could your city undertake to reduce this type of discrimination? [7:10pm]
9. Our next chat, taking place this Wednesday, will focus on the topic of transportation. How has access to transportation affected your ability to find appropriate housing and (if applicable) employment? [7:20pm]