‘We need to fix the mess’: Prince Albert area disability advocate speaks out at Parliament Hill
A local artist, entrepreneur and rising disability advocate traveled to Parliament Hill to speak about her struggles as a disabled university student amid debates in the House of Commons on Bill C-22, The Canada Disability Benefit.
Quinn Smith-Windsor was joined by fellow Canadians with disabilities, advocates and allies from around the country on Wednesday at a rally in Ottawa organized by grassroots disability advocacy groups including Disability Without Poverty.
Smith-Windsor said the rally experience was wonderful for her and she felt she was able to get her message across.
After being intrigued by one of the movement’s Facebook posts, Smith-Windsor took it to her university professor, who then helped her organize her participation in the group.
“I will do my part to help end disability-based poverty,” Smith-Windsor said before leaving for Ottawa. “I will use my voice.”
According to Smith-Windsor, the federal and state income programs for people with disabilities are riddled with holes.
“I am quadriplegic but was removed from Saskatchewan Assured Income for Persons with Disability (SAID) for enrolling at university. I have no income now unless I drop out of university and go back to SAID. That’s not an option. We need to fix the chaos of disability benefits at the provincial and federal levels,” she said.
Smith-Windsor sells paintings and art cards, but like many people with disabilities in Saskatchewan, she relies primarily on SAID, which she says is not enough to survive.
“The number one reason we support the Canadian Disability Benefit is that all Canadians with disabilities have opportunities to thrive,” said Smith-Windsor. “It shouldn’t be that hard to find ordinary things like finding a place to live, going to college, living independently and affording groceries.”
In Saskatchewan, the poverty line is $1,902 a month. SAID provides $1,064 per month for people with disabilities who qualify.
Smith-Windsor believes, “This is a system designed to keep people with disabilities in poverty.”
According to Statistics Canada, 41 percent of Canadians living in poverty have a disability.
According to the Disability Without Poverty website, the rally took place during the same week as UN Day for the Eradication of Poverty.