Disabilities and discrimination – going back to work is harder than one would think now days


Being on disability assistance isn't something we want... it's something we need and the few assholes out there that abuse it ruin it for us all - Diane age 47 Halifax NS

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.”

Being disabled and trying to get a job is damn nearly impossible because most people don't see past the disability - Steve age 40 Dartmouth NS

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 🙂




About Jaidemoon

Sylvia lives in Halifax NS in a well known neighbourhood called Spryfield Sylvia is also known in many writing circles as Lila Mosher. (her chosen pen name) She is in the process of getting her 1st book published, from a series called Steppin' Out that she's been working on for a few years (So far she's completed 4 books and the 5th one is almost done.) She's accomplished getting poetry published in the past but the most recent accomplishment was getting an article published in the Nova Scotia Advocate. (Something she's wanted to do for years) Sylvia has 2 children at home and is a altruistic lady who is forever trying to assist those in her community, she volunteers for the local food bank in her area and helps rescue cats though a rescue group she runs with her aunt called "Halicats". She firmly believes that kindness is a commodity and should be given freely. "I once was told as a teen... 'When storm clouds come rolling in, try to be someones rainbow.' I still try to do this on a daily basis." S. White. Sylvia Or Jaide in here has quite the following with her written works including a fan fiction series called Generation Ork. and several other stories that you can find on line. Check them out in the links on her blog.
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6 Responses to Disabilities and discrimination – going back to work is harder than one would think now days

  1. Netty says:

    It’s all of them young foke now days who had their parents hand them everything so they could get that damn education that tend to look down on people who are disabled…20 years ago when I first landed on disability I was told…”Enjoy the worry free time of not having to do anything…it’s not like anyone will hire you at your age now anyway.” *if I could have slapped the youngster I would have, smug little prick he was!* I was on disability for all of 130 days…I went back to work be damned if I was letting some wet behind the ears punk tell me I was no longer useful in the job market! To those who struggle… keep it up, prove those smart ass social workers we’re people to!

  2. Jeffrey says:

    It’s sad that Im not surprised to hear about these down falls in the system. Myself being disabled with a mental illness I had to fight tooth and nail to get anything from them they only tell you very little unless you know the language to get what you need. My worker never calls me never asks what I need nothing. I’ve been on assistance almost a year I have maybe seen my worker twice. I can barely tell you what she looks like. At times I become angry with people saying how young people shouldnt be allowed on assistance but it’s there to help you ( even though at times it doesn’t seem to help) if you are young and the help get the help but also put the effort on as well. I have just started a back to work program that is helping me get back on my feet .

  3. Lynn says:

    I really enjoyed the blog.. It was a very interesting but yet so true to the world… It is also very upsetting knowing how disabled people are ruled out. I know of someone which was mentioned in the blog… I have know him for almost 6 years come this Nov… It has been very upsetting and very hard on the both of us.. He would go out almost everyday all dressed up and resumes in hand… Yes he got a few calls and all seemed very interested in him and said he was perfect for the job but once an interview was in play and meant him it soon become a problem… So finally he gave up for a while but still kept in contact with the world and it jobs out there. Tried again several times more…
    He was able to get into this program which trains people with disabilities for the work force… He did well on this and his training was in class for a short time then he was put in the work force. He was being trained at the Dollar Store in Halifax.. He worked very hard and never missed a days work… Finally the day come after 6 months of working with them with out pay they finally gave him a job there… Wonderful you would say right well you are wrong….His pay rate was $1.00 an hour… and he would work 8 hours out of one day… So now lets look at this… he travels the bus for he is not able to drive… The bus costs $2.25 that is one way and he comes back again that is another $2.25. Now with this in mind he is paying in $4.50 to go to work everyday… Now with this he is only making $8.00 for a days work.. So now with this he is only making $3.50 for a days pay… Now is that fair… NO…. See this is why it is so upsetting for people with disabilities, for are not being treated equally.. They are people just like everyone else… If nothing people with disabilities work even harder then those with out…. When are people going to see this…. So my question to those outsiders. People with disabilities want to be treated equally there for want nothing more then a good days pay.. They too do not want to be on social assistance nor getting a disability check they want to work and keep themselves busy. But if everyone with disabilities get a pay rate of $1.00 an hour how can they do that… SAD very SAD….

  4. jaidemoon says:

    Thanks everyone for replying I appreciate the feedback and yes it is very upsetting to see how the system thats set in place to help tends to hinder people more than it’s suppose to, by making people jump through rediclious hoops… Lynn I recall that job with the dollarstore you and your friend mentioned and it’s god awful that a work program would only pay a person who’s disabled a damn dollar an hour!!! WTH were they thinking? Todays society thinks that a person who’s got a disibility are no longer useful unless they can use them? Like COME ON NOW I say shame on the work group that put him through that, and shame on the dollarstore for being so DAMN cheap in paying thier workers no matter WHO they are! This makes me wonder why there’s work groups out there that do things like this (dollarstore example) People with disabilities are having a hard enough time with self esteem and self image and to be USED even by a system thats SUPPOSE to help them is just appalling!!! I’d like to see some of those workers live off a dollar an hour, this is Canada dammit the min wage is 9.60 an hour!!!

  5. Stephen says:

    Hey Jade:

    I am the 41 year-old man of whom you included in your disabilities blog. Here is my point as to why I am so bitter. Everyone has the right to ‘work for what they want’, the disabled included, however, often times we are treated as though we are a ‘bulldog’ looking at a pork chop….sooner or later we (the dog) will jump at the pork chop and take someone’s hand off…….

    I am bitter due to this fact as I have responsibilities just as all of the working class due. I have child support, rent, bills and the list goes on and on…….I need not to be jerked around with ‘band aid’ back to work training programs with the promise of employment at the end…….only to be let down altogether and set adrift again with nowhere to go or turn. I need to not feel useful I need to BE USEFUL and a productive member of a tax paying society so as I may NOT be viewed as a ‘charity case / burden’ but rather become a SELF- SUFFICIENT and SELF- RELIANT disabled father who is able to afford and do what is expected of him in the trial of life. Examples of this are: Child support payments, Financial planning for the future, Wills, HELL even to be able to go on a trip once and a while!!!!!!

    Every New Year, I have a Christmas / New Year Journal and I put predictions for the coming year in it. One of my year after year comments is ‘Find a job (s) that will permanently get me off of Social Assistance and make me a productive tax paying member of society. I have worked, but, it has NOT been on salary…….this is another reason for my on going bitterness at the system.

    The last and final reason is of course, being the OTHER part or side of a romantic relationship. It is so difficult to be happy in a relationship when you know that you are the reason for the downfall of relationship. It all goes hand and hand. If I am NOT able to procure employment, then, there is NO way I can help out with RENT, BILLS, OCCASIONS, WILLS, EXPENSES etc……
    I am so frustrated that I am NOT able to be put on salary so as I can be able be ‘the other half of the relationship’…

    Society needs to wake up and demand change and soon or they will be finding many disabled persons’ ending their lives as I can a test to as I have lost friends to suicide because they could not find / procure employment to have / make their way with a decent life………

    To close, I am sure I could find a plethora of reasons why (I as well as many of my fellow disabled unemployed brothers’ and sisters’) have reason to be bitter with regard to our attitudes at the job market / society…….but, I will end for now…….

    Thanks for giving me a forum to vent Jade!!!!
    Disabled Father

    • Lynn says:

      Hey Stephen… I hear what you are saying and can be somewhat and very overwhelming as well..But stop making big steps in life and start making small steps… you will get future in time then if you go fast…..Stephen you will get a job someday maybe not tomorrow but someday… Don’t give up on yourself and don’t give up on the people that are trying so hard to help you out…. Take each day as it comes… Worry less on the things you have no control of… Always remember you are not alone in the battle of the world… There are many men and woman just like you the sigh in hopes of getting to be noticed…. And being a someone… Well stop there for you are a someone and that will never change… keep a smile on your face and others will follow… Keep trying and never give up….. Stephen I do not see you to be a quieter i see you to be a motivator… Good luck…

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