As I promised, here's the speech I gave today in support of Britain's Disabled People Against Cuts:
"We are here today to show our solidarity with the people with disabilities in Britain who have suffered, and continue to suffer, from severe cuts to social programs. Their Independent Living Fund is like a combination of our ODSP and Direct Funding. So, not only is the Cameron government cutting money used for food, rent, and other necessities, they’re cutting money people use to hire and pay their personal support workers. This means that with little or no assistance with their daily needs, disabled people in Britain are limited in their choices and their abilities.
David Cameron’s “no low is too low" attitude is causing havoc with people’s lives! How can Britain’s conservative government expect people with disabilities to survive, to thrive, and to continue to be a valuable part of society? And, how dare they lay a “Bedroom Tax”’ on people, just because some have a small extra room! How can they cut funding and then add a ridiculous tax on top of that? It’s inhuman!
I’ve heard people say, “What is happening in Britain won’t happen in Canada.” Nonsense, I say! The Canadian government has already shown its distain for people with disabilities in many ways throughout the years. In 1995, Mike Harris brutally slashed ODSP and OW. We are at an income level that is 55 per cent below where it was twenty years ago. We are living way below the poverty line, barely surviving!
And then, we were told that the Special Diet had to be cut because they said that people were “misusing” that funding. Yeah, right! The bastards only claimed this to be so, so that their cuts could be put into practice. If the government truly understood what people on ODSP have to deal with, they would see that we use the Special Diet funding not just on medical necessities but on food and rent – in order to survive!
It is my feeling that we have a direct stake in the fight of Britain’s disabled people. Plans to merge ODSP with OW, and to further cut disabled people's funding in Ontario are eerily similar to Britain’s recent policies.
In Britain, disabled people from all parts of the country are doing demonstrations every day this week to voice their outrage and frustration at the terribly unjust way their government is treating them. With every fibre of my being, I hope that their efforts make positive change happen and ends the persecution from government and the media.
There were five speeches in all, and mine was the last one to be read. As always, everyone spoke with passion and conviction. And, as always, I loved having my opinions heard and acknowledged by my peers.
And yet, not a lot of my peers came out today, which was disappointing. Only about 20 people came. However, that's the thing about doing demos/speeches. Sometimes a lot of people come out, and sometimes only a few do.
Passersby heard our speeches and took our leaflets - that's good! And, when the demo was all over and Simone and I went to have a snack at Tim Hortons, we met, quite by accident, Brittainy and her new boyfriend Billy. Brittainy asked me how the demo went, and I told her that, despite the small size of people in attendance, it went quite well.
And then, with a smile, I used my Speak It! app to let Brittainy and Billy to read/hear my speech. It pleased me that they liked it, and it pleased me, too, that some of the people in Tim Hortons seemed to be listening to it as well ....