Editor’s note: After this column ran in the Edmonton Sun July 12, it was pointed out the Assured Income for Severely Handicapped does cover ambulance costs. Still, we wonder if there are other AISH issues. Please share: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you see me rolling through the streets in the next few days I may be going a little slower and using more caution.
Here’s the reason why: I don’t want to fall out of my wheelchair.
It will cost me $350.
If you’ve had to take an ambulance recently, you probably received a bill in the mail for $350. That seems to be the going rate.
Now, we have to apply the brakes for a few minutes. Turn off lights and sirens, too.
Let’s just wait and make sure everyone understands the situation.
As a person with a disability, I want to be treated like everyone else in as many environments as possible. Moreover, I want to pay the same price as everybody else.
But I am starting to see how concessions could be made which would help people with disabilities become just a little more financially stable.
The unemployment rate for people with disabilities can be twice as high as people without disabilities. The realities speak for them elves.
IN ALBERTTA Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped maximum payment is $1,588, or $19,056 a year. By comparison, Statistics Canada says the national poverty line is $23,298 a year.
We don’t need to bring out a calculator to decipher Canada’s poverty line and AISH annual payments aren’t very far away.
But when things happen — and, if you have a disability, you know the unexpected surfaces often — they more likely than not come with a price, emotionally and financially.
Personally, with cerebral palsy — or, for that matter, any physical disability — falling is a part of life.
I’ve had a few bad falls. Even more close calls.
I am also not the slightest man on the planet and — right, Dr. Armstrong? — I need to drop some weight.
When I fall now, it takes two people to pick me up. If there’s nobody around and the phone is nearby, 911 is my next call.
And that has happened a few times transferring from my wheelchair.
The EMS staff are very professional and caring and made sure I was safe and comfortable.
Then, a few weeks later, a nice white envelope came in the mail with an invoice to match.
The invoice for $350.
I’m very fortunate my benefits cover the cost.
Yet, I am mindful of people where a $350 expenditure — even if it is covered — can make things a little tight.
So, is it a stretch of the imagination to suggest people on AISH not be charged for ambulance bills?
That $350 taken out of an AISH payment of $1,588 is a significant hit.
In a society where we continue to tug away to include people with disabilities as community members, we have the chance to be creative.
People with disabilities on limited incomes paying for an ambulance bill somehow just doesn’t look or sound right.