As we enter these final months leading up to the election, I find myself shocked to encounter firsthand how tax dollars are being misused to further negative ads about the opposition. I can't believe the lengths to which the Liberal Party will go to try to win people over.
There are so many better uses for the money they are wasting on paying people to make calls such as the one I received last week.
Last week, I received a phone call from the Liberal Party. The lady on the other side of the phone started talking about how the Liberals are creating jobs for all and equal opportunity for all. She ended her comments with "Right Michelle?" The script was set up in such a way that most people would simply answer yes to her question. I happen to believe in speaking the truth so I stopped her in her tracks by politely informing her that I beg to differ. I explained to her that I am totally blind and that I am falling through all the cracks with regards to programs that are supposed to help me but who don't know what to make of an educated blind woman who has been job-ready for years. Most of the time these programs only hold me back and I find myself more qualified than the people who are floundering around not knowing what to do with me.
This was met with silence and then some mumblings about how she wished she could help. I said I wished she could too because I'm extremely discouraged. She gave me some suggestions all of which I'd already tried but at least she wanted to be helpful. She then had the nerve to ask me for money. I couldn't believe what I was hearing. She wanted $100. I informed her that I'm unemployed and have no money to give. Would you believe it if I told you that she asked me for money again?
She wondered whether I might be able to give them $50 or $25. I told her that as I'd just explained, I was unemployed and every penny is accounted for. She was not going to back down and I realized I was fighting a losing battle. I explained to her that people on disability only get about $906 per month unless you qualify for a special dietary allowance or other minor subsidy. Even if you qualify for such an allowance, the amount only goes up about $40. This is supposed to cover rent, groceries and everything else. Apparently, Internet is a luxury even though we need the Internet to find work.
The part that is important here is that I asked her whether she was taking down anything I was saying. She said no but that the conversations are probably listened to.
That just made me feel completely unheard once again. I want someone to listen and to join my struggle for freedom because I'm trapped in a system that is oppressing me. It's not enough for everyone to think that blind people who get up in the morning and try to live our lives like anyone else are amazing. I'm tired of walking down the street and being stopped by people who want to tell me how wonderful I am. I'm not amazing or wonderful. I'm a woman who is trying desperately to get ahead in a society who, through no fault of their own, has very low expectations of the blind. I'm not a super human or anything else. I'm just a woman who wants to work, pay taxes, and raise a family. All I want is to be a mother.
I want to thank our NDP MLA Gwen O'Mahony for always listening. I contacted her office and wondered if they were also going to call me and ask me for money after hearing that I am unemployed. To my surprise and delight, I was very graciously received and encouraged to make my voice heard.
We the blind want someone to acknowledge that the system is broken and then to walk with us as we try to fix it. Blind people know what blind people need better than anyone else. We are people with hopes and dreams just like the rest of you.
It's time to take action and it's time to say "no" to the systems that are slowly but surely oppressing us. I for one am frustrated, sick and tired of fighting all the time and I hope that people reading this will start to realize that there is a whole untapped labour-market of people who are falling through the cracks.
Michelle Creedy Chilliwack