Jeremiah 29: 4-14
Every Monday, when I hear that sound, I offer up a prayer of thanks. Then, when I hear it again, I offer up a second prayer of thanks.
In this day and age, our phones are persistently chirping at us – those alarms that indicate the balance in the bank account has gone below the requisite amount; those that seem to shout, “It’s past time to pay the bills!”
But, every Monday …. Ding!
I could be alarmed (heh heh … alarmed) when I consider that costs are going up, while income struggles to keep up. And that my husband and I are on a seniors’ pension that certainly won’t be growing exponentially, any time soon.
I could be especially concerned about the people who live on a disability pension. Like our daughter. That Notice of Rent Increase comes each year, no matter what. The cost of good, healthy food keeps going up. New clothing and vacations seem out of reach for many.
For me, the most recent threat is to my serenity. I could easily be sitting in a heap of worry and frustration, but …… Well, I confess to being frustrated, but … am I worried? I have to say, No … no, I’m not.
So what’s going on? See, since 1988, our Ontario Government has most generously being providing our family with funding to pay for personalized support for our daughter, who lives with multiple disabilities.
In the beginning, the money was used for Respite. I just needed time for me – to go for a very brief walk, or a bike ride, or to have a lovely soak in a tub.
Over time, the focus of the support moved to include our daughter, who was ready to work on goals. It became Respite with a Purpose.
As I got the rest I needed while our daughter was having fun learning new things, the focus then became all about our daughter. It became Developmental Programming, and our daughter began to learn skills that would help her to live as independently as possible.
Once school ended at age 17, it was time to focus on getting out into the community; on learning what was out there, and where she could find her place of belonging. The focus became Community Connecting.
And now, all these years later, now that our daughter lives on her own, the focus really has become Community Participation and Relationship Building. So that she’ll have supportive, loving, reciprocal relationships in her life, and a community where she may contribute meaningfully her many gifts and talents.
We have seen so much growth in our daughter over the past 30+ years, because of the individualized support she has received, paid for by, first, the Special Services at Home Program, and, later, the Passport to Community Program.
Our daughter lives in her own home (a lovely apartment overlooking the Trent Canal); she is employed as a dietary aide at a local long-term care facility (she will celebrate 14 years, next month), and makes commission income from her online business; she has a large network of friends, both with and without disabilities, local and far-flung (she loves to connect in person, via video chat, and text); she belongs to a faith community (and has recently been invited to be part of the kids’ church program as a mentor); she has healthy food, access to health care, and supportive neighbours, and so much more.
And it could all hang by the thread of possibility called Passport Funding.
The current Ontario Government has been given a mandate by the people of Ontario to slash the deficit. To do this, cuts are being made. Without consultation with stakeholders. These cuts are affecting our education system, our health care system, and the most vulnerable people in our communities, including people who live with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
The promised increase in the minimum wage will not happen. The promised increase in the Ontario Disability Support Program’s pension amount will not happen. There are threats that rent and other subsidies will be cut. All while costs go up.
And, now, Passport to Community Funding is …. well, I just don’t know.
Never, in 30+ years has there been a threat to this funding. Never has it been late in coming. But, now, not only has the flow of funding been suspended (albeit temporarily, I hope), but I can’t even be sure that the funding will continue.
Will our Government continue to provide the funding? Or will it exercise its right under the Amendment and Termination clause of our Passport Service Agreement, to terminate, cancel or suspend the funding?
The question could hang over us like a Damocles Sword, threatening doom.
But, every Monday, I hear, Ding! That Ding that says I’ve been paid. That money has gone into my bank account because I cared enough to share with others the gift of health. So, not only am I and others enjoying stellar health (including increased ability to cope with stress!), but we also have the opportunity to build a source of residual revenue that is deposited each Monday into our bank accounts.
That sound prompts me to offer up a prayer of thanks. And, then – Ding – another. Because I have a solution to the worry that comes with depending on a Government that does not seem to understand our daughter’s needs; that could pull the rug right out from under her, leaving her without the individualized support she needs to live her best life.
One thing is for sure, I intend to share our solution with as many people as possible. So people whose family members live with disability may also enjoy better physical and financial health, and so their family members do, as well.
Linda Doran Viscardis lives in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada, with her husband, Dennis. Linda is passionate about ordinary people living extraordinary lives of contribution and freedom. Visit Linda’s web site to learn a bit about Linda and her work as a healthy lifestyle consultant.