CW: Poverty & Assisted Suicide
Joannie Cowie, 52, of Windsor, Ontario, is considering medical assistance in dying because she is forced to live in poverty due to her disabilities. She has asthma, COPD, cancer, and Guillain-Barré syndrome. Cowie is unable to work and does not have any family support. She lives with her daughter, a disabled college student. They must work together to make ends meet on $1,228 from Ontario’s disability support program. Cowie also receives additional money for her daughter, which amounts to a few hundred dollars.
The family’s grocery budget is $59 a month after all the other bills are paid. Cowie says that she can’t afford a Butterball turkey for Thanksgiving. According to the Agri-Food Analytics Lab, the price of turkey in Canada has increased by approximately 15% this year.
Les Landry worked as a truck driver and made a good living. He developed a hernia, which led to complications with his blood pressure. He also has epilepsy and experiences chronic pain. Landry lived for years on $1,685 in disability income and donations made on Twitter. He also received additional benefits offered through Alberta’s disability program – only a few hundred dollars more, but it allowed him to budget and pay his bills on time.
When Landry turned 65, however, he lost his disability benefits. He is now a senior citizen living in poverty. He lost benefits that allowed him to take care of his service dog, and his allowance for dietary and transportation needs.
Disabled people who receive benefits through the Ontario Disability Support Program received a 5% increase in September. This puts an extra $58 in their pockets. In July, more than 200 advocacy groups signed an open letter urging the Ontario government to double ODSP payment rates.
Cowie feels like disabled people have been forgotten about. Landry doesn’t feel like there is an alternative to MAID. Why is it easier for people with disabilities to die than to live? Disabled people should be able to have a livable income. We should be able to get the help we need to live our lives to the fullest. Millions of disabled people around the world are forced to live in poverty. We need help. People are dying because of a broken system.
Bundale, Brett. “Inflation Is Making Thanksgiving Dinner More Expensive than Ever .” CBCnews, CBC/Radio Canada, 7 Oct. 2022, https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/food-inflation-thanksgiving-1.6609464.
DeClerq, Katherine. “Five per Cent Increase in ODSP Funding to Be Available in September.” CTV News, CTV News, 9 Aug. 2022, https://toronto.ctvnews.ca/five-per-cent-increase-in-odsp-funding-to-be-available-in-september-1.6020708.
Leffler, Brennan, and Marianne Dimain. “How Poverty, Not Pain, Is Driving Canadians with Disabilities to Consider Medically-Assisted Death.” Global News, Global News, 8 Oct. 2022, https://globalnews.ca/news/9176485/poverty-canadians-disabilities-medically-assisted-death/.