Imagine the challenges many young adults face today with finding employment, juggling school and the rising costs of living in Ontario. Now imagine you have an intellectual disability. The odds may be stacked against you and you may have no choice but to rely on the support of your family and friends to survive, let alone to live a good life.
Meet Yvonne Spicer. Until recently, she was working, but is now actively looking to find employment. Five days a week, she attends the Community Integration through Cooperative Education program at Conestoga College, an hour’s drive from her apartment. Despite this hard work and effort, and though Yvonne receives $829 from the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) every month, she simply does not have enough money to lift herself out of poverty.
Yvonne openly talks about the struggles to pay her bills at the end of each month and managing her mounting debt. She says, “This is very emotional, very hard for me. I rely on food banks and churches to secure meals, while I struggle to find a job and I’m about to graduate from College. I feel very low and it hurts my self-esteem.” For her, it is a constant worry, “it makes you feel uncomfortable to need handouts all the time. It is also difficult to manage eating what you want when you are relying on what they have to give.”
Despite facing these daily challenges, Yvonne is a role model to others. She is an active member of the Council of Community Living Ontario, a group of self-advocates who push for changes in public policy; from raising the asset limit under ODSP, to increased affordable and accessible housing, to the removal of waitlists for government services. This is why your support of Community Living Ontario is so critical in helping us to assist Yvonne and others facing similar challenges. Together, we must continue to advocate for changes that improve the lives of people who have an intellectual disability and their families all across Ontario.
Through her involvement with Council, Yvonne was instrumental in raising awareness around sheltered workshops, as well as the benefits of meaningful employment and community participation with Helena Jaczek, Minister of Community and Social Services. She also advocated for the continuation of the $100 a month work-related travel allowance for ODSP recipients, which the government intended to cut. Most recently, she gave a deputation in Orillia on the future use of the former Huronia Regional Centre and surplus land. Yvonne is an advocate for change and improvement in the lives of people who have an intellectual disability.
Your donation will strengthen our advocacy efforts to build a more inclusive and understanding society. Together, we can continue to advocate for change so that Yvonne and people who have an intellectual disability will actively participate in their community and feel financially secure in their future.
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