We’re living in the 21st Century—right?

It’s August, 2019. Very clearly, some of us are living in the 21st Century. But, some others? I’m not so sure.

How many of you manage your family member’s financial affairs? Don’t you just love it when, each month, everything falls into place as it should? With no surprises? No issues? No frustrations?

I like to imagine each month end arriving to the sound of a harp. I have a smile on my face and joy in my heart. Why? Because (I imagine) everything that needs doing is done in only a few minutes. It is done well, efficiently and correctly. And, then, well, it’s done.

I like to imagine that the gears of whatever systems we are part of are well oiled. And these systems are working exactly as they should, to the benefit of the people they support. I like to imagine that all is done well, efficiently and correctly. And, then (again) it’s done.

But—isn’t there always a “but”—but, it’s only in my imagination that everything falls nicely into place. With no surprises. No issues. No frustrations. And, I can’t figure out why, in the 21st Century, we are having the issues we are having.

I can only believe that the systems around us are still operating in the 20th Century. And we must wait for them to catch up.

And usually that’s just what I’d do. Wait. But there are days when waiting is hard. Heck! Waiting is impossible. So, is it okay if I step out of my comfort zone, and rant a wee bit? I can imagine you shaking your head yes, so ………..

Back in the 20th Century, I was once responsible for sending text messages via a Telex machine, which required error-free, hole-punched ticker tape. I took notes using Pitman Shorthand. I typed on an IBM Selectric typewriter, and couldn’t believe how cool this was in comparison to my old manual typewriter. I made copies of what I was typing by placing carbon paper between two sheets of paper. I still remember the smell of the Gestetner, and was amazed by how quickly we could make “photo” copies. I worked on a telephone switchboard, with a headset and dozens of cords, which I pushed into appropriate outlets to connect callers. I used an adding machine with buttons I depressed and a hand crank to do mechanical calculations. (Wow!) I remember when I first saw a fax machine, and marvelled how futuristic we’d become. And, I handwrote letters—on paper, and put them in envelopes with a stamp, and had a mail carrier deliver them.

I thought those days were behind us. Seriously.

Recently, I discovered that, although this dinosaur (that’s me) may have moved into the 21st Century, some of the antiquated systems around us have not.

You see, recently, I was instructed by our local Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services’ (MCCSS) office that, rather than continuing with the use of e-mail (which I’d been using for years), we must go back to the days of hand-delivery, snail mail and fax machines (who even owns one of these any more?), for delivery of our daughter’s monthly Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) Employment Reports. Yes, Government of Ontario. Seriously.

So, instead of sending the report virtually, and to ensure the Report arrived on time, at its intended destination (to avoid having our daughter’s pension suspended, as it is, it seems, almost every month), I jumped into my gas guzzling vehicle, drove all the way into town, through traffic, around the block several times to find a spot to pull into for 30 seconds to drop the Report into the MCCSS Mail Box. Then, I drove all the way back home, wondering how this “new” method of delivery is better than email.

Only to discover, yesterday, that the Employment Report did not even get processed. And that, as a result, our daughter’s pension is at risk of being suspended (again), and her income was clawed back.

I’m usually a very patient, tolerant, optimistic person. Not yesterday, I’m sorry to say. (Although, I hasten to add that by the end of my phone call with our daughter’s CSR, we were both laughing about the absurdity of it all.)

My suggestion? (Because I don’t wanna rant without having a suggested solution!) A safe and secure online account where all information and documentation may be submitted and archived. Where calculations are made, right there on the screen. Oh, and a communication portal would be great, too—because effective communication is key.

Easy access. No delays. No incorrect calculations. No lost documents. Save our trees. Save on fossil fuel. Oh, and maybe this efficiency would help with data entry, and cut down on the number of pension suspensions and income clawback. Maybe even save the Government of Ontario some money. Win:win:win:win:win:win:win:win:win:win!

I’ll be waiting … for MCCSS to catch up with us, here in the 21st Century.

PS. I was just invited to join a Beta group, which is testing a new online service for Ontario. Oh, you can’t imagine how excited I was. I tried to sign up, but I don’t qualify. Back to waiting. And maybe booking another wee chat with our Member of Provincial Parliament.

Linda Doran Viscardis has been an advocate for over 30 years, for her daughter and for other families who are impacted by the systems that revolve around people who live with disabilities. Visit http://www.viscardis.ca.

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