Being disabled and trying to return to work is a lot harder than one would think it should be, but it’s a fact of life now days and all too common place to see those who want to return to the workforce shoved aside because they aren’t considered “able-bodied”
The Nova Scotia Human Rights Act doesn’t allow for discrimination relating to a person’s employment on the basis of the protected characteristics identified in Section 5(1)(h) – (v) of the Act. http://nslegislature.ca/legc/statutes/humanrt.htm.
While employers have the right to manage their business as they wish, they must ensure they do not go against the human rights act, so how is it that those who are disabled and yet willing to work have issues with not just companies but those from the very services aimed at helping them find employment discriminating against them for having such disabilities even thou they wish to work?
I write this article with a few such persons in mind. One is a 55 year old woman who is a tad high-strung but a lovable lady none the less who’s creative, free thinking and considered “developmentally delayed” even thou she’s not.
Her disability is within her body. She suffers with a crux of many debilitating conditions. Her ailments include diabetes, arthritis, chronic muscle pain, A.D.D., A.D.H.D., PTSD from abuse at the hands of her ex husband, and more. She’s strong willed and determined to get back to work, she’s currently on social assistance disability. She’s asked for help in seeing her Dr. in a timely fashion; she’s filled out necessary paper work, as is required and still she has a worker who treats her like she’s a second class citizen. She’s had to fight with her social worker to even consider her as a candidate to return to work only to have her own worker ask her “Why would you want to go back to work at your age? You should retire.” This lady’s response was, “Who in the world do you know who retires on welfare?”
Alison Jones, who works in the Akeley office, is her worker. Due to the fear of being deemed a “trouble maker” this lady has asked not to be identified and true to my wishes I shall leave her real name out of this, I will instead call her Marie, but I do have one question, HOW in the hell is this social worker who has apparently NO courtesy for those she works with still working for a government agency that’s there to HELP?
I was told Alison has in the past accused Marie of having a “boyfriend” and that she then made false claims of this alleged boyfriend of purchasing Marie fancy undergarments. She was then cut off of her assistance due to this falsehood. Marie was quite upset and with her emotional status already in a precarious balance, she contacted her Dr and asked him if he had informed her worker of what was going on, He had confirmed he had. She told him what had happened with her worker and he wasn’t too thrilled with the results. Her Dr. called her worker and got things sorted out but Alison’s claims were she didn’t “understand what the Dr. wrote.” It turns out that Marie had surgery that had resulted in the partial loss of her breast and she needed a new brazier that would help balance her body off properly. She had Dr. confirmation and yet Alison her worker decided to make the task of getting the proper undergarments a living nightmare. How is it that an “EDUCATED” woman who has a government job didn’t understand what a Dr. wrote? Which included, Diabetes, PTSD and lump removal from left breast. I mean I can understand this and I do not have 5 years of university…
It also took Marie three days before her worker called her back to help her get assistance during the bus strike to get to an appointment that took her 3 years to get set up… she had called her worker 4 times and notified her of the need to make it to this appointment and still had to wait till the last minute before she got confirmation that she had the transportation… this took from her sleep, caused her anxiety and panic attacks and basically made her week a living hell with worry… how is it a worker can do this to someone who has ADHD and PTSD, KNOWING she’d be visually upset over having to wait so long for a response. When I spoke to Marie I had asked her if she’d request to speak to Alison’s supervisor and she stated she had and was told that she had to “deal with Alison, regardless” I called the main office to social services and asked a few questions myself and was informed that a client was entitled to ask for another worker if they felt they couldn’t work with the worker they had been assigned due to conflicts of interest or other reasons. Apparently this wasn’t the case for Marie who’s requested a new worker on several occasions.
“She’s suppose to be there to help me but instead she looks down her nose at me and calls me stupid for buying bus tickets while there’s a strike on, which I might add I had no idea was going on since I don’t read the news or watch it, my life is miserable enough I don’t need to watch something that’s going to depress me more.” I asked her if she’d consider a new worker if she was given the help in obtaining one. She agreed, but when I spoke a few days later to the head office about more information pertaining to a new worker request I was pushed off like these office workers like to do to their clients.
The 2nd person I will be speaking about is 40 years old and visually impaired, he’s a functioning member of society thou. Even thou his vision is impaired he can still see some. He had been hired for a crossing guard job and even showed to his work and was immediately let go because his boss stated “I don’t know if you’d be able to get a licence plate number if a car hit anyone” If a car was going to be heading for any of the children Steven would be responsible for he’d be more concerned in getting them out of the way so they didn’t get hit, not the plate number which if most take into count isn’t something many people think about doing in the middle of an adrenaline rush. Steve has been looking for work for over six years and hasn’t had any luck. He works part time at the local school as a lunch monitor. He said it’s not enough but no one wants to hire him because of his disability and he’s seen it time and time again. He gets the interview and he’s sure things are going great and leaves from the interview optimistic but in the end no one ever calls him back. It’s made his life very difficult in maintaining his self-esteem and in getting back into the work force.
“Disability pension just doesn’t pay enough for people like me to survive and living with another person isn’t an option as I’d lose my disability.”
Reason being to the loss of disability pensions… as in Nova Scotia is if you live with another person of the opposite sex then they are your partner regardless if you have kids in common or not. This is a form of discrimination all on its own being as the way today’s costs of living is. A home needs two incomes just to be maintained! This isn’t an issue in Ottawa Ontario where there is no discrimination against those who need assistance and another person to reside with them to help in off-setting the costs of living.
My last person is a 59 year old female who suffers from fibromyalgia and severe arthritis, she knows her time is limited before she can no longer work but refuses to “Sit on my ass and do nothing, even if there are days I can hardly move!”
Diane (name changed) is a determined person and wants to get back to work and has gone about doing so but not without a ton of hurdles.
“My worker was about as supportive as a pair of holed panty hose!” She said as she hauled out a ton of paperwork. Most were Dr’s letters letting her worker know of her special needs, her allergies so that certain meds she needed would be covered (but weren’t because they didn’t fall under the covered list for her medical coverage) There were letters letting her know she was denied for a wheel chair as she “could walk even with limited mobility.” There were letters she had to pay for herself on appeals and more notes from her Dr just to get that chair, it took her three years!
“I was a prisoner in my own home and my disability worker used that against me more often than not, making appointments I couldn’t get to because I wasn’t able to move or get a drive there. When I told her I couldn’t get there she said to me, “Get here or lose your assistance, the choice is yours”
I was shocked to hear this but not really surprised, more and more often I hear people tell me how badly their workers treat them and how often they are let down by the system that’s suppose to be there to help them.
Today’s standards for a social worker to help aid the clients they are given has deteriorated over time. Workers act like the monies that’s used to help those in need is coming straight out of their own pockets. I know that the funds come from taxes and such but if a disabled person wishes to get back to work encourage them to do so by HELPING that’s what the system is there for! Discrimination is not tolerated and I do not for the life of me understand why it’s allowed in this kind of setting but it seems to be the going trend now days.
I for one would like to see these workers to be taught some sensitivity training and to learn some empathy seeing as many don’t seem to understand the meaning. Being disabled doesn’t give a social worker the right to treat those who are any worse than a single mom who needs help, if anything everyone should be encouraged to pursue their passion and make a living at it no matter their age, or disabilities… Going back to work disabled isn’t as easy as everyone might think it is. Just remember this disabled or not if you rely on assistance, you’re allowed to appeal any denial of services, you’re allowed to ask for a new worker (talk to their supervisor if they say no) and if all of this still sees you backed into a corner write to your MLA… there’s someone out there to back you, just remember facts and info that can be backed only otherwise it’s just going to be harder to get the help you need and if you’re still struggling try calling the help line in your local area 🙂