Coronavirus pandemic creates life or death situation for vulnerable people, says advocate

Community May 06, 2020 by Kevin Werner Stoney Creek News

As people are stuck in their homes with their immediate family members, only emerging for the occasional visit to a grocery store or a walk up the street, what about those people who can’t go out because of an underlying health issue?

“I’m trying to do everything by myself,” says Laura Cattari.

Cattari, who lives in a downtown apartment near her workplace at the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction, has been confined to her home since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. She is afraid to go out because of her underlining health issues.

She usually shops at Nations Fresh grocery store at Jackson Square, but since it doesn’t have delivery service and no online shopping option, Cattari is forced to order from another grocery store with high delivery fees. She is able to order her medications and have them delivered and she also is able to use her credit card to pay for any fees. However, for people such as Cattari, the luxury of shopping around is not available.

“You are taking your life in your hands if you go out,” she said.

She may have to do just that since she will have to get her blood tested. Before the pandemic, it was a simple process.

“Now it is a risk for me,” she said.

According to 2016 census data from Statistics Canada, there are about four million Canadians who live alone, representing about 15 per cent of the population.

Cattari said there are other vulnerable people, such as seniors, who are also feeling alone and isolated during the pandemic, stuck at home, with some unable to ask family members to help.

“There is a sense of dignity and respect that has been left out here,” she said.

The pandemic has revealed the stark inequities in society between the well-off and the vulnerable, where each are facing different priorities during the stay-at-home orders. While a portion of the population can order and pay for food from grocery stores using a tablet or computer, some vulnerable people are scrambling to save money to pay for groceries, medicine and rent, and are shut out from public facilities, including libraries, that have internet connections.

Cattari said the idea that someone relying on welfare or disability benefits will have enough money to stock up on enough food and basic supplies is not realistic. And with schools closed, families that relied on school lunch programs to supplement their children’s diet have had to make other arrangements if they can.

The province did announce $200 million in new money to protect the most vulnerable population, including funding for shelters, food banks and other non-profit groups.

People who receive income support from Ontario Works or Ontario Disability Support Program will continue to get the benefits. Funding for coronavirus-related expenses is the same for both programs: an increase up to $100 for single individuals and up to $200 for families.

Part of the federal government’s $82-billion aid package announced at the end of March includes providing up to $900 bi-weekly for up to 15 weeks to people who have been impacted by the coronavirus, but do not quality for employment insurance and who don’t have paid sick leave through their employment.

The province also announced it will continue to keep lower electricity prices in place until May 31, a decision that began March 24. The temporary price cut was scheduled to end May 7 under the province’s Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.

And the Ontario government will partially exempt income received under the federal Canadian Emergency Response Benefit for Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Program clients who were on the program prior to the pandemic outbreak. The federal benefit provides $2,000 per month over four months, but it is expected to end after four months.

While the emergency funding is welcome, it isn’t enough. A single person will receive just over $731, which is supposed to cover shelter and food, while a couple with one child under 17 will received $823.

“These are pretty vulnerable people,” Cattari said.

She added that vulnerable people without an internet connection may not know how to access it.

“They don’t even know it is available,”’ she said.

She blames all levels of government for not properly addressing the needs of the vulnerable during this health crisis. With some exceptions — such as the grassroots group caremongering to supply groceries or pick up drugs from pharmacies — the general public isn’t really assisting the vulnerable in accessing proper food and other needs. (Although, there have been a number of organizations and businesses that have announced donations to local food banks over the last few weeks.)

Cattari, who has been an outspoken advocate for establishing a basic income, says essentially the federal benefit is a temporary basic income program for people who have lost their jobs. She said that benefit should be made permanent to provide needed stability to all vulnerable people.

“Having that income would be a huge relief,” she said. “(Government) knows it works. There are no conditions, it helps people and keeps the economy working.”

Cattari remains committed to advocating on behalf of people who are overlooked, especially during this time of crisis.

“I’m keeping myself safe,” she said. “Home is safe. Eventually this will be over.”

 

 

Coronavirus pandemic forces vulnerable people to put their health at risk to survive

Community May 06, 2020 by Kevin Werner Stoney Creek News

As people are stuck in their homes with their immediate family members, only emerging for the occasional visit to a grocery store or a walk up the street, what about those people who can’t go out because of an underlying health issue?

“I’m trying to do everything by myself,” says Laura Cattari.

Cattari, who lives in a downtown apartment near her workplace at the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction, has been confined to her home since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. She is afraid to go out because of her underlining health issues.

She usually shops at Nations Fresh grocery store at Jackson Square, but since it doesn’t have delivery service and no online shopping option, Cattari is forced to order from another grocery store with high delivery fees. She is able to order her medications and have them delivered and she also is able to use her credit card to pay for any fees. However, for people such as Cattari, the luxury of shopping around is not available.

Related Content

“You are taking your life in your hands if you go out,” she said.

She may have to do just that since she will have to get her blood tested. Before the pandemic, it was a simple process.

“Now it is a risk for me,” she said.

According to 2016 census data from Statistics Canada, there are about four million Canadians who live alone, representing about 15 per cent of the population.

Cattari said there are other vulnerable people, such as seniors, who are also feeling alone and isolated during the pandemic, stuck at home, with some unable to ask family members to help.

“There is a sense of dignity and respect that has been left out here,” she said.

The pandemic has revealed the stark inequities in society between the well-off and the vulnerable, where each are facing different priorities during the stay-at-home orders. While a portion of the population can order and pay for food from grocery stores using a tablet or computer, some vulnerable people are scrambling to save money to pay for groceries, medicine and rent, and are shut out from public facilities, including libraries, that have internet connections.

Cattari said the idea that someone relying on welfare or disability benefits will have enough money to stock up on enough food and basic supplies is not realistic. And with schools closed, families that relied on school lunch programs to supplement their children’s diet have had to make other arrangements if they can.

The province did announce $200 million in new money to protect the most vulnerable population, including funding for shelters, food banks and other non-profit groups.

People who receive income support from Ontario Works or Ontario Disability Support Program will continue to get the benefits. Funding for coronavirus-related expenses is the same for both programs: an increase up to $100 for single individuals and up to $200 for families.

Part of the federal government’s $82-billion aid package announced at the end of March includes providing up to $900 bi-weekly for up to 15 weeks to people who have been impacted by the coronavirus, but do not quality for employment insurance and who don’t have paid sick leave through their employment.

The province also announced it will continue to keep lower electricity prices in place until May 31, a decision that began March 24. The temporary price cut was scheduled to end May 7 under the province’s Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.

And the Ontario government will partially exempt income received under the federal Canadian Emergency Response Benefit for Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Program clients who were on the program prior to the pandemic outbreak. The federal benefit provides $2,000 per month over four months, but it is expected to end after four months.

While the emergency funding is welcome, it isn’t enough. A single person will receive just over $731, which is supposed to cover shelter and food, while a couple with one child under 17 will received $823.

“These are pretty vulnerable people,” Cattari said.

She added that vulnerable people without an internet connection may not know how to access it.

“They don’t even know it is available,”’ she said.

She blames all levels of government for not properly addressing the needs of the vulnerable during this health crisis. With some exceptions — such as the grassroots group caremongering to supply groceries or pick up drugs from pharmacies — the general public isn’t really assisting the vulnerable in accessing proper food and other needs. (Although, there have been a number of organizations and businesses that have announced donations to local food banks over the last few weeks.)

Cattari, who has been an outspoken advocate for establishing a basic income, says essentially the federal benefit is a temporary basic income program for people who have lost their jobs. She said that benefit should be made permanent to provide needed stability to all vulnerable people.

“Having that income would be a huge relief,” she said. “(Government) knows it works. There are no conditions, it helps people and keeps the economy working.”

Cattari remains committed to advocating on behalf of people who are overlooked, especially during this time of crisis.

“I’m keeping myself safe,” she said. “Home is safe. Eventually this will be over.”

 

 

Coronavirus pandemic forces vulnerable people to put their health at risk to survive

Community May 06, 2020 by Kevin Werner Stoney Creek News

As people are stuck in their homes with their immediate family members, only emerging for the occasional visit to a grocery store or a walk up the street, what about those people who can’t go out because of an underlying health issue?

“I’m trying to do everything by myself,” says Laura Cattari.

Cattari, who lives in a downtown apartment near her workplace at the Hamilton Roundtable for Poverty Reduction, has been confined to her home since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. She is afraid to go out because of her underlining health issues.

She usually shops at Nations Fresh grocery store at Jackson Square, but since it doesn’t have delivery service and no online shopping option, Cattari is forced to order from another grocery store with high delivery fees. She is able to order her medications and have them delivered and she also is able to use her credit card to pay for any fees. However, for people such as Cattari, the luxury of shopping around is not available.

Related Content

“You are taking your life in your hands if you go out,” she said.

She may have to do just that since she will have to get her blood tested. Before the pandemic, it was a simple process.

“Now it is a risk for me,” she said.

According to 2016 census data from Statistics Canada, there are about four million Canadians who live alone, representing about 15 per cent of the population.

Cattari said there are other vulnerable people, such as seniors, who are also feeling alone and isolated during the pandemic, stuck at home, with some unable to ask family members to help.

“There is a sense of dignity and respect that has been left out here,” she said.

The pandemic has revealed the stark inequities in society between the well-off and the vulnerable, where each are facing different priorities during the stay-at-home orders. While a portion of the population can order and pay for food from grocery stores using a tablet or computer, some vulnerable people are scrambling to save money to pay for groceries, medicine and rent, and are shut out from public facilities, including libraries, that have internet connections.

Cattari said the idea that someone relying on welfare or disability benefits will have enough money to stock up on enough food and basic supplies is not realistic. And with schools closed, families that relied on school lunch programs to supplement their children’s diet have had to make other arrangements if they can.

The province did announce $200 million in new money to protect the most vulnerable population, including funding for shelters, food banks and other non-profit groups.

People who receive income support from Ontario Works or Ontario Disability Support Program will continue to get the benefits. Funding for coronavirus-related expenses is the same for both programs: an increase up to $100 for single individuals and up to $200 for families.

Part of the federal government’s $82-billion aid package announced at the end of March includes providing up to $900 bi-weekly for up to 15 weeks to people who have been impacted by the coronavirus, but do not quality for employment insurance and who don’t have paid sick leave through their employment.

The province also announced it will continue to keep lower electricity prices in place until May 31, a decision that began March 24. The temporary price cut was scheduled to end May 7 under the province’s Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.

And the Ontario government will partially exempt income received under the federal Canadian Emergency Response Benefit for Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Program clients who were on the program prior to the pandemic outbreak. The federal benefit provides $2,000 per month over four months, but it is expected to end after four months.

While the emergency funding is welcome, it isn’t enough. A single person will receive just over $731, which is supposed to cover shelter and food, while a couple with one child under 17 will received $823.

“These are pretty vulnerable people,” Cattari said.

She added that vulnerable people without an internet connection may not know how to access it.

“They don’t even know it is available,”’ she said.

She blames all levels of government for not properly addressing the needs of the vulnerable during this health crisis. With some exceptions — such as the grassroots group caremongering to supply groceries or pick up drugs from pharmacies — the general public isn’t really assisting the vulnerable in accessing proper food and other needs. (Although, there have been a number of organizations and businesses that have announced donations to local food banks over the last few weeks.)

Cattari, who has been an outspoken advocate for establishing a basic income, says essentially the federal benefit is a temporary basic income program for people who have lost their jobs. She said that benefit should be made permanent to provide needed stability to all vulnerable people.

“Having that income would be a huge relief,” she said. “(Government) knows it works. There are no conditions, it helps people and keeps the economy working.”

Cattari remains committed to advocating on behalf of people who are overlooked, especially during this time of crisis.

“I’m keeping myself safe,” she said. “Home is safe. Eventually this will be over.”