McGuinty's axing of the Special Diet program is a catastrophe to poor and sick Ontarians

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Krystalline Kraus Krystalline Kraus's picture
McGuinty's axing of the Special Diet program is a catastrophe to poor and sick Ontarians

 

McGuinty's axing of the Special Diet program is a catastrophe to poor and sick Ontarians

May 7, 2010| By Krystalline Kraus

 

http://www.rabble.ca/news/2010/05/mcguintys

The story behind how the Special Diet payment program for those who are sick and poor will soon be cancelled because it was too successful.

Issues Pages: 
Doug

It's the government's view that it was abused but that's no excuse just to chop it without a replacement. As someone on a low-sodium diet for medical reasons, I know it costs more than just eating normally. Part of the problem is that the regular welfare benefits are so stingy that there's no give at all for special circumstances.

Freedom 55

Doug wrote:

Part of the problem is that the regular welfare benefits are so stingy that there's no give at all for special circumstances.

 

Never mind special circumstances. They don't cover even the most ordinary of circumstances.

Sineed

I have always been against the special diet, for a couple of reasons: first, there's the absurdity of people having to prove to the government that human beings need to eat properly to stay healthy, and secondly, there's the bureaucracy.  Every government program comes with the cost of the people who administer it.  If they raise the rates for everybody, they eliminate that bureaucracy, saving funds otherwise wasted on paperwork, and make the program simpler and more fair.

 

NDPP

unless and until the general  public understands that they too could find themselves at the bottom trying to live on $500 per month or nothing at all, they will continue  to view those less fortunate with studied indifference at best. The lack of concern overall as the social safety net is hacked and chopped away, is breathtaking and reveals much about the current state of the Dominion. But don't worry there's a huge expansion of the prison system planned to handle what is to come. Meanwhile our 'representatives'  are as crooked, stupid or venal a gang as you'll find anywhere. All of them. Stop going along with it. Time for a rising.

Freedom 55

I agree that people shouldn't have to get a medical professional to fill-out a form stating that one needs proper nutrition in order to be healthy. And I agree that OW and ODSP rates need to be raised across the board. But the special diet has been a lifeline for thousands of Ontario's poorest families.

The campaign that OCAP and it's allies mounted to increase access to the previously obscure benefit, came only after a decade of futile campaigns to force the province to reverse the 22% Harris cuts and to increase social assistance rates to account for more than a decade inflation. That was 'Plan A'. But once it became apparent that McGuinty had no interest in reducing poverty in Ontario, people on social assistance and their allies moved on to 'Plan B' - the Special Diet campaign.

Regardless of what one thinks of the Special Diet, with all it's absurd rules and bureaucratic inefficiencies, it should be obvious to everyone that canceling the program - without an accompanying substantive increase to social assistance rates - is a terrible move which will have a devastating impact on this province's poor.

Michelle

Are there no prisons?  Are there no apolitical charities like food banks and shelters?

Exactly, NDPP.

Bacchus

No such thing as an apolitical charity.

Fidel

"Money doesn't grow on trees!"

 It's what the federal Liberals told the CCF in the 1930s when Canada's social conscience party demanded pension raises for Canadian seniors living in poverty. There was an outbreak of world war, and a CCF member of parliament commented that money seemed to suddenly grow on trees to fund Canada's war effort. Ottawa pulled out all the stops.

JKR

Michelle wrote:

Are there no prisons?  Are there no apolitical charities like food banks and shelters?

Exactly, NDPP.

 

"Are there no workhouses? Are there no prisons?"

 

McGuinty and Harris are modern day Ebenezer Scrooges.

Bacchus

First Collector: At this festive time of year, Mr. Scrooge, it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the poor and destitute.
Ebenezer: Are there no prisons?
First Collector: Plenty of prisons.
Ebenezer: And the union workhouses - are they still in operation?
First Collector: They are. I wish I could say they were not.
Ebenezer: Oh, from what you said at first I was afraid that something had happened to stop them in their useful course. I'm very glad to hear it.

Krystalline Kraus Krystalline Kraus's picture

i guess one of the worst things i discovered while researching this article was that it appeared as if the gov't was instruction welfare workers to challenge people applying for the Special Diet Allowance by questioning their medical history and as far as I am concerned, a civil servant is NOT a doctor or other qualified medical condition and should not be in a position to bull someone regarding their health or medical history.

Sineed

statica wrote:

i guess one of the worst things i discovered while researching this article was that it appeared as if the gov't was instruction welfare workers to challenge people applying for the Special Diet Allowance by questioning their medical history and as far as I am concerned, a civil servant is NOT a doctor or other qualified medical condition and should not be in a position to bull someone regarding their health or medical history.

Precisely why I have been against the Diet Allowance all along - having to prove to the government you need a healthy diet to be healthy is not only absurd, as I mentioned above, but also demeaning.

Raising the rates across the board makes much better sense, and is more humane.  And it isn't necessarily that much more expensive, if the government takes into account the reduced billings to OHIP, as people no longer have to get their dr to sign off on the necessity for a healthy diet.

Snert Snert's picture

Quote:
Precisely why I have been against the Diet Allowance all along - having to prove to the government you need a healthy diet to be healthy is not only absurd, as I mentioned above, but also demeaning.

 

Was the original intent not to be able to provide for special dietary needs? Eg: for celiacs, diabetics, HIV+, etc? If so, how is it particularly demeaning to have to demonstrate that you're in the "special needs" category? If I want the government to, say, pay for a wheelchair ramp at my home, is it out of the question for me to have to provide some sort of documentation supporting my claim that I use a wheelchair?

Sineed

Coupla points: a wheelchair ramp is easy to quantify.  Money for more food, not so much.  For one thing, everybody needs adequate healthy food to be healthy; it's not a "special" dietary need.  I question whether actual health care providers or dietitians were consulted when they devised this policy in the 1st place.  To take your example, there's no evidence that people with celiac disease, diabetes, or HIV would need more expensive food than the average person requires in order to enjoy optimal health.

Here's the thing: some people with chronic conditions require a healthy diet that has been specifically determined.  Those of us who are (relatively) healthy have not had a specific diet determined for us, so proving that we require healthy foods is much more slippery.  Take diabetics: the Canadian Diabetes Association has published guidelines showing how diabetics require a certain balance of carbohydrates, protein, and fats in order to maintain healthy blood sugar levels.  For non-diabetics, studies have shown that not eating a healthy diet can lead to developing diabetes.  There is a lot more flexibility in what constitutes healthy eating - but that doesn't mean healthy people will stay healthy if they eat crap.

There's the Canada Food Guide, but basically, for people without chronic conditions, it's much harder to prove to a bureaucracy that a certain amount of money is needed to buy food that enables a healthy diet.  So you get less money, eat a less healthy diet, and after a few years of this, you get sick, possibly then qualifying for the Special Diet Allowance.

Basically, the Special Diet Allowance was conceived in order to avoid paying everybody more.  But everybody needs more.

Freedom 55

The Ministry of Community and Social Services has finally announced what's happening with the Special Diet.

"Ontario is revising the Special Diet schedule - the list of conditions eligible to receive a Special Diet Allowance."

"With these changes, some Special Diet Allowance recipients will no longer be eligible for the program. There will still be a $250 per month maximum cap for people with multiple medical conditions who qualify for more than one allowance."

"The revised Special Diet schedule will take effect April 1, 2011. New application forms will be available in February 2011 and mailed to current Special Diet Allowance recipients.

People eligible to receive the Special Diet Allowance under the revised schedule will need to apply for the new program. All payments under the current schedule will end by July 31, 2011."

 

RevolutionPlease RevolutionPlease's picture

And more bureaucracy and invasion of privacy.

 

"requiring that recipients consent to the release of relevant medical information to support their application"

 

http://news.ontario.ca/mcss/en/2010/11/changes-to-the-special-diet-allow...

Sean in Ottawa

Premier fails on two counts:

1) It is inhuman to leave people unable to buy food that is healthy for them.

2) The government does not understand the social determinants of health. It actually will cost the government to be so nasty. What they save in withholding nutrition in special diets, as well as overall nutrition, they will spend -- and some -- on added health care costs.

The decision is nuts.