Letter by claude wittmann, to NDP Critics
Sent October 12, 2018
Dear NDP official critic for social services, Lisa Gretzky,
Dear NDP official critic for accessibility and persons with disability, Joel Harden,
Dear NDP official critic for poverty, Rima Berns-McGowns,
Dear NDP official critic for mental health and addictions, Bhutila Karpoche, Copy to: NDP MPP Marit Stiles,

On September 24, NDP MPP Marit Stiles wrote an email to three of you suggesting that she coordinate a meeting between you, chair of the ODSP Action Coalition Andrea Hatala and me.

I am an ODSP recipient at the juncture of all your portfolios, active member of the Coalition, in collaboration with the Ryerson School of Disability Studies in Toronto. Here are a few words i can't wait to say.

In the deepest part of my heart, i do not understand why i am classified as "mentally ill" and "disabled" and why this has to translate into being 40% under the poverty line and into constantly managing the debilitating stress of my survival mode, both internally and in my interface with my outside world. When i take the courage to face this truth and sincerely feel it in my body, it becomes insanely hard to stay standing, keep my heart and throat open and walk towards others.

Still, i am white and thus do not experience the intersectionality of race/Indigenous ancestry/immigration, disability and poverty, but i am a transgender man with an invisible "disability" and, through MA and PhD, i have read, reflected, artistically dissected my position in this society enough to see the systemic problems i am unfairly carrying, as others are, and that your portfolios address. Right now, i experience the systemic violence of Minister's MacLeod 100 days of redrawing of our social assistance system without inviting recipients at her decision-making table or even as advisors.

"The best social program is" not "a job". The best social program is a sharing of resources with respect and equity, a sharing of decision making and a sharing of profits.

Would it be possible for you to intervene more clearly in Minister MacLeod's process?

I would love to hear from you.

Here are links to writings and actions i did or initiated:

- oped i wrote for NOW magazine
- Minimal Action 2
- Minimal Action 3.

Please be in touch.

Thank you for your work.