Canadian Citizenship & The New Bureaucratic Trauma.
I recently moved from the Greater Toronto Area, of Ontario, to beautiful Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Within days, I discovered it may have been easier to move to Spain; a move I’ve always dreamed of but feared due to ill health.
I have been living with the effects of several Rare Diseases my entire life, and they force me to make each decision cautiously. I must always consider my health complexities and the rarity of my combination of diagnoses before I can make any move at all, but I thought a move to British Columbia, another Province within my home Country of Canada would be a move made easier by my Canadian citizenship. I quickly discovered I was wrong. It seems I was very, very wrong.
Since my move I’ve discovered so many redundancies in our health and social program systems, that I’ve been shocked to discover how disjointed our Nation truly is.
I was deemed permanently disabled by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) for the Disability Tax Credit, and also deemed permanently disabled by the Ontario Disability Services Plan (ODSP), but when I came to British Columbia I discovered those determinations were completely irrelevant when considering my application for Disability Supports in B.C. For approximately my fourth time, I’m forced once again to jump through the same hoops I’ve had to jump many times before and each of these jumps can feel like repeated, and devastating traumatic events.
No one likes to be forced to relive traumatic events, but it seems there’s a new form of trauma in town and I’ve learned it actually has a name in social program circles; It’s known as “Bureaucratic Trauma”.
In Ontario, under ODSP my medications and my vast list of unique medical needs were covered. In fact, I had no idea what it was costing the Province of Ontario to help me maintain my mobility, and manage my health. Today I now know that my needs cost an average of $1000 per month, and I discovered that when I was told my ODSP Drug Card couldn’t be honored in B.C. Even though I was still covered I couldn’t access what I needed, and this all came at a time when I needed it most.
Anyone who’s experienced even that slight move to a higher floor in their apartment building can attest to the stress associated with any move, but to move Provinces can be a nightmare to the strongest and healthiest of people, let alone someone who faces major pain and health complications every moment of every day.
I’ve been forced repeatedly throughout my life to rely on social programs due to a long line of health problems that remained unexplained until the age of 39. That prevented me from reaching the financial freedom we all fight to achieve. I keep trying, then get knocked down, just to get up and fight once more. I will never stop trying, but my health demands its pound of flesh time and again, making each effort seem like an ongoing battle of wills.
I left Ontario to be closer to my Son, his Wife and my soon to be three grandsons, but I’d always loved the natural beauty of British Columbia and am excited to now call it home.
When I left Ontario, I left behind an amazing group of Medical Practitioners who helped me discover things about myself I’d never known or even thought possible. Their skill and compassion helped me get out of my bed, and then out of my electric wheelchair. They helped me develop a plan that allowed me to walk and care for myself, independently once again. I was obviously nervous about leaving their knowledge and ongoing support behind, but they helped me learn what I needed to know so I could move forward in life. Thanks to them I am where I want to be, but thanks to a complete lack of National health care programs and services I’m now forced to battle a system I thought I’d already fought.
My income has dropped more than half since the move, while my access to my many required medical supports has completely disappeared. I have been lucky enough to meet some amazing health care professionals in my new home of Campbell River, B.C., and their efforts have helped ease the transition is many ways, but the journey ahead is not mapped, nor is it even coordinated by any available programs or services.
During this experience, I’ve taken it upon myself to call everyone I can think of in an effort to find answers, but I have yet to find any one service or program capable of helping to coordinate what has become a mountain of challenges.
Here’s what saddens me the most about this situation. I’ve spoken with multiple politicians offices, on both the Provincial and Federal levels, and no one seems to have anything to say but this; “We know there are gaps in services and programs.” This led me to wonder; If they know there are major gaps, then why aren’t they doing something about them instead of just being complacently accepting what is with a sigh?
When I asked if our new Federal Ministers were even looking at these issues I was told, “No, not that I know of”. Well, why not?
When I asked if the National Healthcare Accord was on their Agenda? The answer was, “No. Not that I am aware of at this time.” I must say I was quite shocked about this one, considering how I was told during the Federal Election Campaign that this was a priority issue. If this is a priority issue then why isn’t it on the agenda right now?
If our Political leaders know there are major gaps across our Country, and if they know there are redundancies in our social programs and systems, then why are they letting them sit as they are?
What’s the good of a National Political Leadership, if the Provinces are left to run their piece of property as an independent land while provided with federal funds to assist with the development and support of these programs? Or, even better, why isn’t our National Leadership creating and offering any of these unified, National Programs that have the power to take some of the weight off our Provincial burdens, while also making these programs and services accessible to Canadians across our Country?
I am no political specialist, but I am a Canadian Citizen and I deserve to know why my Canadian Citizenship seems to equal not much while living in Canada.
OHIP and BC Health do not talk, while ODSP and BC Disability Supports speak different languages. The Canada Revenue Agency, Disability Tax Credit holds no power except to offer a credit at tax time, and neither supports or assists the other in any form of administrative way. From what I’ve gathered so far, other Provinces function in much the same manner, which again makes me wonder where’s the unity in Canada?
Our systems across the country are disjointed, disconnected and even almost completely unaware of the other. Each Province seems to function as a Nation independent of their neighbor. Where is our unity and who’s going to stand up against what now exists and take note of what’s missing, what’s repeated, and what could, or should be provided in its place?
Here’s a big question that I would love to have answered; If I’m deemed permanently disabled by the National Canada Revenue Agency for a Disability Tax Credit, then why can’t that become a National Disability Designation that’s capable of being respected across all Provinces and Territories, within programs and services?
I’ve learned over the years, that I’ve been blessed with a high comprehension, then cursed with bad health, but I take great pride in my country and I’m convinced we can do better.
This will be the first of a series of articles whose aim is to draw in depth attention to our existing gaps, while looking at how they got to be, who is trying to do something about them, and what we can do to get Canada unified once more.
I believe in Canada, and as I fight for what I need and deserve as a Canadian, I plan to take you along for the ride. I hope you like what we’ll discover and I hope we can find a new Canadian pride as we see what Canadians can do.
Sherri L. Jones