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Jumping Through Hoops: Perspectives From A PWD

A person looking out the window

Isolation is just one of the struggles for Scott....

BC Disability

By Scott Imbeau

Will $6.66 a day change a Life?

Scott Imbeau discusses the stresses of poverty, administrative hoops, and the shortcomings of the Canada Disability Benefit

The Journal

So, there's a new disability credit coming out next year.

It was supposed to pull the disabled community out of poverty, but it's only going to be $200 a month, and even then, it's only for those people who qualify for the Disability Tax Credit.

This leaves, at minimum, hundreds of thousands of people ineligible because they either don't qualify for said credit (even though they are on provincial or federal disability), don't have a doctor who is willing to do the paperwork, or don't have a family doctor at all.

Further, because many people on disability don't have enough income to qualify to pay for taxes, they have never applied for the credit because the application cost comes out of their pocket.

Each time the government has me reapply for a program or apply for a new one, it triggers the hell out of me.

A few years ago, the provincial government forced me to jump through a bunch of hoops and apply for CPP-Disability, which was a draining and traumatic experience.

The provincial government forced me to jump through a bunch of hoops and apply for CPP-Disability, which was a draining and traumatic experience.

When I was turned down I was made to have to appeal the decision during which I kept a 30 day journal of just how bad my mental state was. I was forced to detail each day my suicidal-ideation in detail, my inability to complete simple grooming and cleanliness tasks, and write down my deepest, darkest thoughts and thinking patterns and inability to get out of bed some days.

I was turned down for CPP-D because I had never actually gone through with my suicide attempt and had done, what everyone keeps telling those in my situation to do, ask for help before it gets that far. I was being punished for putting my well-being ahead of my comfort level. To this day I am still only on provincial aid.

Now I am faced with jumping through the federal hoops once again and it's bringing back all the stress and fear I went through ten years ago, all in an effort to keep myself out of the food bank line a couple times a month.

Tomato Sandwiches and Isolation

I don't have huge goals. I'd like to have some fresh fruit and vegetables during the summer months when the price comes down a little. A simple thing like a tomato sandwich is now a treat. Because the price of the vegetable has increased so much in the last 3 years, I don't buy them anymore.

A simple thing like a tomato sandwich is now a treat

I see my 82-year-old mother about once a month because I don't always have the needed meds to deal with the anxiety of a two-hour bus ride, the money for a cup of coffee over which we can talk, the second bus ride back to south Surrey, and then the money needed to Uber back up the hill to the room I rent.

I see my best friend and his family seldomly, and even then he usually drives 30 minutes out of his way to ensure I get back home safely.

We get GST rebate cheques this month, in a few weeks. Mine is already spent. My $80 credit card annual fee just showed up on my statement. I have to budget $50 for my doctor to help fill out the form needed to apply for the new disability funding for which there is little guarantee I will even receive the funding.

And after all this, I am one of the lucky ones because I'm not living in a bug infested room. I'm not at the food bank every week. I have a doctor to help care for me, let alone one willing to fill out the forms to apply for things like the disability tax credit or the extra funding each month due to my diabetes.

The Little Things

My goal at this time is not to end up out of poverty.

It's to, once a month, find a small piece of a life worth fighting for which reminds me I'm still a human because most days I am lying in bed without the will to brush my teeth, the $3 to go next door for a cup of coffee, or travel to see my mother's face in whatever time we have left together.

Yes, trying for that life means saving $15 a month to go to a hockey game once a year or going out with my oldest friend and her husband for a beer when happy hour is on.

Some people will think those are luxuries I shouldn't be indulging in. Maybe they're right. Maybe I should just be spending my time, whatever I have left, just lying at home and watching YouTube all day every day. But then I wouldn't be living anymore: I'd only be surviving alone until the day I die.

I know for a fact there are people who think that's all I deserve after the path my addiction led me down. Perhaps they're right. I don't know, but surely the majority of those in my financial position shouldn't have to live like me.

So the question becomes, why are they being punished as they struggle to find a way to qualify for an extra $6.66 a day to survive on?

A man with brown hair wearing a blue shirt

Spencer van Vloten is the editor of BC Disability. To get in touch, send an email to!


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