Hamilton disability protesters demand PCs back off on proposed changes to definition of disability

Two local ACORN chapters organized a rally and protest in support of disabled rights and demanded that the Doug Ford government keep rates up and back off proposed changes to the definition of disability for the purposes of disabled benefits eligibility

They chanted on the sidewalk, in the parking lane and under the hoardings in front of the Ellen Fairclough and ServiceOntario buildings, some tentatively, others with robust, rousing voices.

Some were in wheelchairs, others standing, some wearing hearing aids, others with mental health challenges. What knit them together, the 20 to 30 protesters who rallied on King West on Friday, was the urgency of their demand that Premier Doug Ford abandon planned changes to the definition of disability in Ontario, which they fear will narrow eligibility for the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP).

“We have to push together,” exclaimed an impassioned Raven Bridges, co-chair of ACORN’s east-end Hamilton chapter, ACORN (Association of Communities For Reform Now) being the organizer — with allies — of the demonstration. It was one of several across the province this week.

“With the changes that are going to be happening, mental health will not be covered,” Bridges told the crowd.

That — mental health — is one of the criteria that some disability advocates fear the Ford government will try to eliminate from the definition of disability for purposes of benefit eligibility. The proposed definition change was announced last fall, and details of those changes, not yet disclosed, are expected soon, say ACORN spokespeople. But not if they can help it.

After almost an hour of speeches, chanting and holding up of signs and placards, the protesters went up to the Ministry of Health offices on the third floor of the ServiceOntario building and presented their list of demands to the Ford government. (Read more…)