documents made available by claude wittmann
in September and October 2018

- First Person: "Perversion of Poverty"
in NOW Magazine, September 20, 2018

- response to the article by one fellow ODSP recipient: "I would like you to know, as well, that I read your NOW article a few days back, and have read it twice more since then. You articulate what I myself have been going through, and I'd like to note that both the discussion of ODSP's punitive system and your analogy to prison, in the sense that such a system does, in fact, rewire the brain, and your discussion of feeling suicidal while trapped within such a system, is very true. Your words, though difficult, expressed what so many of us will not say aloud."

- letter to the Editor of the Globe and Mail
October 14, 2018

- short stories:

If you haven't experienced ODSP, you can't know what it is because you will never know what it is to be neurologically rewired by a system that you need to survive and that intimately punishes you for it.

It is extremely stressful and alienating to live under the rules of minds and hearts who do not have lived experience of disability and poverty and this is why it should be illegal for our Minister of Community and Social Services Lisa MacLeod to be reshaping the social assistance system without the participation of those who live in it. This is structural violence.

I had never been suicidal before being on ODSP. Last year, one month after a minor surgery, ODSP triggered my medical review. One week after, I lost my part-time job because my condition could not sustain a contamination of the work space and my managers did not believe that they could find the tools to deal with it quickly. Last but not least, that same week, my family openly declared that they were not sure they wanted to see me again. No family, no job, very few friends, no friends with lived experience of disability, the sensation of loosing safety, of vanishing internally and externally, all this, while facing a review of my being, abilities and dis-abilities by ODSP, and where my understanding of my own life would only count if my doctor were to understand me and ODSP. That much betrayal and powerlessness led me into the deepest crisis i have experienced so far. In retrospect, i can see how much power ODSP has over the lives of those with disabilities. We are dehumanized. I am lucky I had a good doctor in the end.

Every single day I think that I am not far from becoming homeless. One little change in my tricky balance of survival could lead me there. And to another suicidal phase. Every time I speak about "home" or "bed" I experience deep physiological stress. This is not normal and it won't be treated by psychotherapy or medication. My physiology is the result of carrying a systemic problem that needs systemic healing.

I am tired of paying 50% taxes on my earnings past $200. This is an exploitation that uses the poorest to subsidize the social system.

I have probably had about 15 different case workers since 2011 and only one was definitely a piece of work quite at the beginning, but in the end it was all ok. At the moment, I have the chance to get replies to my questions or requests the same day or the next. I feel grateful.

- poli-poem written the day after the "Disability and Accessibility" electoral debate"
May 17, 2018