West Island Citizen Advocacy (WICA) and the West Island Mental Health Table are uniting forces to push the provincial government to provide better welfare coverage to physically and mentally challenged people who live alone.
The two organizations have launched a petition on the National Assembly website recently, summoning the government to augment welfare contributions to the disabled by 10.88 per cent. They hope to gather 20,000 signatures.
According to the statistics gathered by WICA, the annual welfare contribution given to a disabled person was $10,881 in 2009 while the poverty threshold for someone living alone was $18,421. The gap between welfare contributions and the poverty threshold in Quebec was 40.93 per cent while only 29.94 per cent in Ontario. This is unacceptable for WICA executive director Marie-Clare Tanguay.
“We’ve known there was a problem for years. Disabled people really have a hard time living on welfare. There is a huge problem with housing in the West Island. The rents are so high, that people with $881 a month cannot have a $600 apartment. The food is expensive too. The government should at least to match Ontario where welfare is almost $1,000 a month,” she said.
Dorval resident Roselyn Williams-Ness has suffered from cerebral palsy, a form of brain damage, since birth. She receives welfare checks every month as she is unable to work full-time or long. She has a hard time paying her expenses each month so she supports WICA’s initiative wholeheartedly.
“I think many people who receive welfare feel like it’s not enough money and it doesn’t seem to make sense. The cost of living is so high but they keep us so below the minimum that it makes it hard to function. It would be nice to see the government doing more because they put so much money in other things that aren’t as important,” she said last Friday.
Robert-Baldwin MNA Pierre Marsan has been involved in the creation of the petition from the start. Tanguay came to his office months ago to discuss the problem. She was instructed on how to make the petition happen by the MNA and his staff. When the petition is closed in either December or March, it will be Marsan who will deposit it at the National Assembly.
“We had started raising awareness of this with the finance minister’s before the election. Unfortunately, I will not be able to follow suit on that because of the elections’ results. But I know this is something important for my constituents so I fully support Marie-Clare because disabled people need the help,” he said.
The petition can be found online at https://www.assnat.qc.ca/en/exprimez-votre-opinion/petition/Petition-3339/index.html or by visiting WICA's office at 68 Prince-Edward Ave. in Pointe Claire.