statement by Scott Seiler
September 13, 2018

Good day,

My wife and I are currently on the ODSP but for years we worked and contributed to the society we live in and paid taxes .. Between 1999and 2000 all my employment ended after many years of being in the social services and education fields at the community college level.. I looked for work for a few years without any luck and came up against a very substantial barrier which all the social services agencies wanted me to have a drivers license.. I am a visually impaired legally blind person who also has a learning disability.. I never had trouble getting a job in my field before this started to be asked as a condition of employment to be able to drive..

As a result of this situation my wife and I decided to make a very big change in our lives and move from the city to the country where we could better afford to live.. This move happened in 2003 in the spring.. My wife is also a disabled person and has always worked in the health care industry and had worked for one employer for more then 12 years doing home care.. We moved up to Bruce county and bought a home up there and I know I most likely would remain unemployed but my wife got a home care job until she was refused accommodation that the ODSP employment specialist had arranged and set up for her .. We went to the Human Rights Commission and filed a complaint which we won after about six months fight but that made it impossible to get a job in her field so in 2004 we went on the ODSP benefits and soon moved to another town nearby and after a while she got a job again and we started over..

We always took her payroll information in to the area office which is where we lived to report income and one time we were discussing the earning exemption and I had said it would be a good idea for the system to raise the amount we can keep.. At that time the system gave us one hundred dollars extra to work and let us keep 50 percent of the earnings.. Our Workers response was "We are not here to help you get ahead" and I responded by saying "we gathered that".. The significance of this exchange is it speaks to the over all climate and attitude of how the system behaved towards us..

The attitude at that time was one of contempt and dislike for us as people and was a reflection of how the system was told to act.. The corporate culture came from the divisive time that happened during the Conservatives time in power and their general attitude toward poor people.. This was still going on in the system after the 2003 election and the Liberals took over power.. The Liberals began to put into place changes and improvements to both give us more income and to end the corporate culture that was so negative in the way it treated us as clients.. The system has always had both good and bad workers and I do not think that will change regardless who is in power or what laws are put in..

As a social service professional myself I do not want to see our new government start up a repeat of the last time they were in power and create a culture of contempt and dislike that borders on abuse and neglect like it was when we first got on the system in 2004....