Saturday, October 29, 2016

where we all / can live as equal citizens

and I looked outside
saw the world was upside down
and I waited for the pause
or the gap
so I would be sure
but it never materialized
the rushing world runs through the wilderness
and I still myself
to be aware


and I looked outside
to find the holes through which  we fall
to the other side of reality
I wondered how
this all happens
how good people become undone
how money triumphs
and how they see
the world    this world that is undone


and I looked outside
from the frame of a poem
everything looks intact
but the world is full of homeless ones
I said the words of the voiceless
that I can hear
through the roaring storms of change
that are coming


and I looked outside
to report on the unease
the people are moving
and anger builds new factories
I wonder when it will all come down
tumbling to our feet
the gaps are big and we are falling


and I looked outside
so that I might document
the downturn
I believe when it ends
we will have a new place
in the light   where we all
can live as equal citizens

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H9Qg8DJp3Hg
Coleman Hell - Fireproof


Albertans with disabilities denied income support, NDP charges


FIRST POSTED: THURSDAY, APRIL 10, 2014 05:23 PM MDT
Briefing note 'flatly flawed': JudgeNDP MLA Rachel Notley takes questions at the Alberta Legislature in Edmonton, Alberta after Government House Leader Dave Hancock announced the Legislature will only be sitting fore two days in October, on Thursday, October 20, 2011. AMBER BRACKEN/EDMONTON SUN/QMI AGENCY
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The provincial government is wrongfully denying applications to the Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH) income support program, charges the Alberta NDP.
NDP Human Services Critic Rachel Notley said roughly 50 per cent of all AISH applications are denied but 35 per cent of applicants who decide to appeal a denial have their decisions overturned.
The program supported more than 46,000 Albertans with severe and permanent disabilities in 2012 with $1,588 per month in income support.
As many applicants are initially denied and have to appeal, Notley says the backlog of appeals is "very problematic."
"My concern, which is very serious and I believe this to be the case, is that the people not appealing are the people who's disability is related to mental health issues and they are not equipped with the skills and the wherewithal to jump through the AISH hoops," she said.
The delay on appeals is between four and six months. As people can't apply until they have a doctor's letter that confirms their disability, Notley said the government is "rejecting 50 per cent of doctor's recommendations right off the top."
Human Services Minister Manmeet Bhullar said the medical requirements for AISH are very strict and if applicants are denied, it's because they don't immediately meet all of the criteria.
"Sometimes new medical evidence is available and looked at and that can be a reason for overturning a decision but at the end of the day, you have to have that medical documentation that proves eligibility for the process," he said.
Bhullar said the program receives between 40 to 50 applications per day, each taking roughly 15 weeks to process.
matthew.dykstra@sunmedia.ca


calgarythe-disabledherald.com/news/local-news/lack-of-hike-in-aish-payments-in-alberta-budget-concerns-advocates-for-



Lack of hike in AISH payments in Alberta budget concerns advocates for the disabled

Published on: April 17, 2016 | Last Updated: April 17, 2016 8:02 PM MDT
The absence of a hike in supports for those with developmental disabilities in Thursday’s budget is ringing alarm bells among some social policy advocates.
While the budget did advance social spending in areas such as a new, $147-million child benefit, there was no increase in the Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped benefit.
It was last hiked in 2012, from $1,188 to the current $1,588 a month, while the eligibility requirement was also relaxed that year.
But, in the meantime, those dependent on AISH are having an increasingly difficult time making ends meet, said Colleen Houston of Disability Action Hall of the Calgary Scope Society.
“We’re asking it to be indexed to the cost of living,” she said.
“People are being forced to live together in poverty … people can’t even afford basic sanitary and hygiene items.”
She said a more comprehensive approach to poverty, such as a guaranteed basic income and affordable housing, are needed.
The last time AISH rates were hiked, increased rents ate up the increases in many cases, she added.
The province has long claimed its AISH benefit is generous compared with other provinces, but Houston said Calgary is an expensive city.
AISH payouts fall short of the low income cut-off (LICO) rate in 2015 of $24,328 of net income by more than $5,000, said Sean McEwen, director of Calgary Alternative Employment Services.
“People with disabilities relying exclusively on that income source are therefore living well under the poverty line,” he said in a statement.
“So it’s a disappointment that the province didn’t find a way to increase these important income supports in the budget for people with disabilities.”
But he credited the province with other poverty reduction measures.
Other anti-poverty advocates have expressed frustration over waiting times to determine eligibility for AISH that late last year were around 20 weeks.
There’s been slight relief in the cost of housing lately, in part due to Calgary’s economic downturn, but that’s been more than eclipsed by increases in prices such as those for food, said Franco Savoia, executive director of Vibrant Communities Calgary.
“It is truly challenging for anybody living on a fixed income,” he said.
The government believes all Albertans deserve to live with a sense of stability and has increased the amount of money devoted to AISH, said Humans Services spokesman Aaron Manton.
“Despite the province’s fiscal situation, we are maintaining AISH benefit levels with a targeted funding increase of $28.3 million to address caseload and cost-per-case growth,” he said.
“The AISH program is one of the most comprehensive programs of its kind in Canada, providing a very high level of support to clients.”
The new child benefit will also help families on AISH, added Manton.
BKaufmann@postmedia.com
on Twitter: @BillKaufmannjrn

AISH issues persist with NDP government

Recent calls to an AISH office confirmed that wait time is still at 16 to 24 weeks

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Alberta Premier Rachel Notley
THE CANADIAN PRESS
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley
By: Helen Pike Metro, Published on Wed Dec 23 2015
After pumping more cash into the budget and dealing with higher service demands, the NDP government is still trying to bring Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH) application times back down to pre-2011 times.
Premier Rachel Notley was critical of the Progressive Conservative government in 2013 when she pointed out wait times between 7 and 23 weeks to find out if you are eligible for benefits. Recent calls to an AISH office confirmed that wait time is still at 16 to 24 weeks.
"We will talk with the minister on how to move forward with AISH. There are a number of issues with AISH we need to consider," Notley told reporters in early December.
LeeAnn Praud, who has applied to AISH and Persons with Developmental Disabilities (PDD) with her 18-year-old daughter who has had special needs – seizures – since she was born. Currently she lives with her parents and is safe, but her mother is still concerned about wait times for those who aren't as lucky.
"Four to six months for someone who is out of work and has whatever disability, with no income in the meantime, that's ridiculous," said Praud. "If my daughter wasn't home safe and she was one of those people, or she wasn't in her extra year of high school, then it would totally be affecting her."
The 2015 / 2016 Alberta budget allocated an extra $33 million to AISH, which the government hopes will help deal with an increased demand.
"No one in need of support should have to wait for an unreasonably long amount of time. The backlog was developed under the previous government. I agree this is a problem and the NDP government is committed to reducing wait times for AISH, and ensuring Albertans with disabilities get the support they need in a timely way," read a statement from Aileen Machell press secretary for Alberta Human Services Minister Irfan Sabir.
"We’ve seen caseload growth of 4 to 5 per cent which has contributed to wait times."
She added that extra money allocated in the budget includes $3 million to go towards hiring additional staff and addressing the backlog.

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No pay raise for disabled

By Sarah Comber, Sherwood Park News
Thursday, October 27, 2016 2:20:10 MDT PM
Ward 4 Coun. Carla Howatt with her daughter, Mackenzie Meyer, 23, who has been living on her own since the age of 18.

Photo Supplied
Ward 4 Coun. Carla Howatt with her daughter, Mackenzie Meyer, 23, who has been living on her own since the age of 18. Photo Supplied
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It’s no secret that minimum wage is increasing in Alberta to $15 per hour by 2018; the increase from $11.20 per hour to $12.20 per hour on Oct. 1 was the province’s first taste of change.

However, the wage increase will not affect the Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH) wage that provides financial help to individuals who are unable to work full-time due to disabilities.
One such individual is Ward 4 Coun. Carla Howatt’s daughter, Mackenzie Meyer.
Meyer is 23-years-old and has Down syndrome. She has lived on her own for five years and works four shifts a week, split between Goodwill and the County Clothesline in Sherwood Park.
The majority of her income is supplemented by the AISH program, which provides her $1,588 per month — equivalent to $9.93 per hour.
Her mother points out that the discrepancy between a $15-per-hour living wage and the AISH salary is unfair.
“The issue I have is that the provincial government has asked businesses during a tough economic time to basically ‘suck it up’ and pay the $15 per hour to their staff,” Howatt said.
“However, they are expecting Acalgarythe-disabledherald.com/news/local-news/lack-of-hike-in-aish-payments-in-alberta-budget-concerns-advocates-for-


Lack of hike in AISH payments in Alberta budget concerns advocates for the disabled

BILL KAUFMANN
More from Bill Kaufmann
Published on: April 17, 2016 | Last Updated: April 17, 2016 8:02 PM MDT
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The absence of a hike in supports for those with developmental disabilities in Thursday’s budget is ringing alarm bells among some social policy advocates.

While the budget did advance social spending in areas such as a new, $147-million child benefit, there was no increase in the Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped benefit.

It was last hiked in 2012, from $1,188 to the current $1,588 a month, while the eligibility requirement was also relaxed that year.

But, in the meantime, those dependent on AISH are having an increasingly difficult time making ends meet, said Colleen Houston of Disability Action Hall of the Calgary Scope Society.

“We’re asking it to be indexed to the cost of living,” she said.

“People are being forced to live together in poverty … people can’t even afford basic sanitary and hygiene items.”


She said a more comprehensive approach to poverty, such as a guaranteed basic income and affordable housing, are needed.

The last time AISH rates were hiked, increased rents ate up the increases in many cases, she added.

The province has long claimed its AISH benefit is generous compared with other provinces, but Houston said Calgary is an expensive city.

AISH payouts fall short of the low income cut-off (LICO) rate in 2015 of $24,328 of net income by more than $5,000, said Sean McEwen, director of Calgary Alternative Employment Services.

“People with disabilities relying exclusively on that income source are therefore living well under the poverty line,” he said in a statement.

“So it’s a disappointment that the province didn’t find a way to increase these important income supports in the budget for people with disabilities.”

But he credited the province with other poverty reduction measures.

Other anti-poverty advocates have expressed frustration over waiting times to determine eligibility for AISH that late last year were around 20 weeks.

There’s been slight relief in the cost of housing lately, in part due to Calgary’s economic downturn, but that’s been more than eclipsed by increases in prices such as those for food, said Franco Savoia, executive director of Vibrant Communities Calgary.

“It is truly challenging for anybody living on a fixed income,” he said.

The government believes all Albertans deserve to live with a sense of stability and has increased the amount of money devoted to AISH, said Humans Services spokesman Aaron Manton.

“Despite the province’s fiscal situation, we are maintaining AISH benefit levels with a targeted funding increase of $28.3 million to address caseload and cost-per-case growth,” he said.

“The AISH program is one of the most comprehensive programs of its kind in Canada, providing a very high level of support to clients.”

The new child benefit will also help families on AISH, added Manton.

BKaufmann@postmedia.com

on Twitter: @BillKaufmannjrnISH recipients to survive on the equivalent of $9.93 per hour.”
Furthermore, Howatt said she is concerned that the potential repercussions of raising Alberta’s minimum wage to $15 per hour may limit the amount of jobs available to disabled individuals like her daughter.
“I will use my daughter as an example,” Howatt said. “She does great at a lot of things but one thing that she cannot do is money — work the till, do the math. So, if someone is faced with having to pay $15 per hour, and their budget is now extremely tight for staff, who are they going to hire?”
Howatt — who stressed her views are personal and not associated with her role on council — added the NDP government is being disingenuous by stating that raising the minimum wage is about creating dignity and stability for vulnerable Albertans, yet they are not pulling through for the severely disabled.
“As a parent, it is very frustrating,” Howatt said. “To me, it sends a message that those with disabilities are not as important. And because they don’t have a voice, because they are not loud and angry, they are getting overlooked.”
Irfan Sabir, Minister of Human Services, said the Alberta government is committed to protecting services for Albertan’s that rely on AISH.
“We believe that all Albertans should be able to live in a stable home and be able to put food on the table,” Sabir said, adding the NDP government implemented a targeted funding increase of $28.3 million towards the AISH allowance in its 2016 budget.
“That funding increase primarily went towards two things,” he said. “Additional pressures…. and cost per case to deal with those pressures.”
Sabir said there have been 2,200 new AISH program applicants each year for the past five years.
“With the increased number of Albertans seeking support from AISH benefits, you need more personnel to deal with that,” he said.
Regarding the difference between the living wage and AISH salary, Sabir said that AISH “is a support program and needs to be seen as such.”
“The program needs to be seen within the context of other supports that are available to that individual,” he added.
Supports available to AISH recipients include the new Alberta Child Benefit, health benefits (such as prescription drugs, dental, and optical), Alberta Aids to Daily Living, and personal benefits like equipment maintenance or visits to a chiropractor.
Sabir added there is no formal review underway regarding the wage discrepancy.
“But that doesn’t mean that we can’t improve things,” he said. “We have heard concerns from the service providers and AISH community. Going forward, we will be looking for ways to improve the program and to best address the needs of the those who are in this program.”
The last wage increase for AISH recipients was in 2012 when the salary went up from $1,188 to $1,588 per month.
Edwin Riediger, CEO of the local Robin Hood Association for the Handicapped, said he believes AISH should be indexed to the cost of living increases.
“If the cost of living goes up by two or three per cent per year, then AISH should go up by the same amount,” he said.
Riediger added that despite the discrepancy between the AISH salary and minimum wage, the Alberta assured income program is considered to be one of the highest in the country.
“But the costs of living are also significant and I think there should be some review of the amount of AISH funding,” he said.
“The review should be on a regular basis to ensure that it is keeping pace with the needs of people that require this level of support.”
Howatt said the AISH wage should be increased to meet the new living wage.
“If the government has determined that this is the living wage — which works out to $2,400 per month — then they owe it to AISH recipients to increase the benefits,” she said.
“When is the government going to start putting their money where their mouth is?”


Julie Ali Kind of hypocritical of government to characterize the AISH stipend as supports that aren't subject to cost of living increases but can simply absorb increased costs because ... .because the folks on AISH are without any voice in our society and have to suck it up?
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Julie Ali Kind of hypocritical of government to characterize the AISH stipend as supports that aren't subject to cost of living increases but can simply absorb increased costs because ... .because the folks on AISH are without any voice in our society and have to suck it up?

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