In Ontario, Canada, recently, some Members of the Provincial Parliament completed an experiment where they had to live on $47.61 worth of groceries a week. For a person receiving ODSP or Ontario Works, they claim that this is an “approximate two-week grocery budget.”
Since 2018, those who are ODSP recipients have received about $1,169 per month. A 5% increase would give them an extra $58 in their pockets. According to the NDP, OW beneficiaries have not seen an increase in benefits and currently get approximately $733 per month.
As someone who receives SSI in the U.S, while the Members of Provincial Parliament may have been well-intentioned, poverty isn’t a publicity stunt. Globally, disabled people often struggle to afford food and other necessities. In the United States 22% of families with an adult receiving federal or state disability benefits experience food insecurity. In comparison, it impacts homes with a disabled adult who does not receive benefits 33% of the time. Food insecurity affects only 8% of households without a disabled adult. For those with disabilities, the poverty rate is approximately 26%, but for people without disabilities, it is only 11%.
Living on disability benefits is a challenge. I receive $871 a month. Most of that amount goes to my rent. Without my best friend’s help, I might not have essentials such as laundry detergent, toilet paper, soap, or body wash. Trips to the movies and meals out are a rarity for me.
Living in poverty is a daily struggle for many of us who are disabled. We shouldn’t struggle to live. Many people have empty refrigerators, unpaid bills, and no money left over at the end of the month. Disability benefits need to provide a livable income.
Cahill, Rachel M., and Laura J. Samuel. “Food Insecurity in the Disability Community: Disparities in Snap Access: .” Health Affairs, Health Affairs , 17 May 2021, https://www.healthaffairs.org/do/10.1377/forefront.20210513.420153/.
DeClerq, Katherine. “Ontario MPPs Go on ‘Social Assistance Diet’ to Show Why ODSP Needs to Be Increased.” CP24, CP24, 6 Sept. 2022, https://www.cp24.com/news/ontario-mpps-go-on-social-assistance-diet-to-show-why-odsp-needs-to-be-increased-1.6056882.