October 24th, 2020

Laying It Out: When the purpose you serve is cruel, your actions will follow suit

By Medicine Hat News Opinion on September 19, 2020.

At what point in Premier Jason Kenney’s assault on all things decent do people point to the proverbial spade and say, “Oh look, a spade”?

As if playing a continued game of, “What deplorable insanity can I squeeze into a press conference this week instead of something a human would say,” Kenney felt now was an important time to remind us of the financial drain that is people with disabilities.

He tried to slap whatever it is he calls charm on the words, but the bottom line is he says too many people are collecting AISH that shouldn’t be, and that people like this should be working instead of receiving government cheques.

After all, don’t you know we’re in a “financial crisis?” Thanks to COVID, oil prices and other outside forces beyond any control or fault of Kenney or the UCP, Alberta is running a deficit this year that tops $24.2 billion.

If 70,000 disabled Albertans who bring in a maximum of $20,220 a year don’t chip in to pay that back, who will? Like, if you think having a disability and needing income support just to survive is bad, you should try being Alberta right now.

We barely even have the highest per-capita GDP of any province anymore, and thanks to Prime Minister Drama Teacher’s No More Pipelines Law, we’re only building two of ’em right now. Plus, we still have to recover the billions we’ll need for that 33 per cent corporate tax cut, which, if we didn’t immediately do, would have resulted in every business in the province leaving for Texas.

Under this fiscal emergency, we just can’t afford to have corporations and┬ádisabled people anymore. The UCP hoped to get us out of this mess last year when they stopped giving AISH recipients a cost-of-living increase, but for some unknown reason they still ran a deficit, so you can see that their hands are tied.

The only option a savvy government like ours could have in such a pickle is to ask some of the disabled people to stop being disabled. So, if it’s not too much trouble, a bunch of you need to quit faking and get a job.

Enough sarcasm.

Based on Kenney’s own words, the idea of reviewing qualification criteria would be to weed out those who the UCP decides aren’t disabled enough to be on AISH. What that percentage would be in their minds isn’t clear, but there is no denying that Kenney believes at least some AISH recipients shouldn’t be there.

Keep in mind that recipients as a whole collected a combined $1.285 billion last year.

Even if the UCP cut AISH entirely, the province would still have a $23-billion deficit. So, if you still think this unnecessary and cruel behaviour toward people is about a financial crisis, you’re as selfish as Kenney is.

As it stands, an AISH recipient with absolutely no outside support can take home a whopping $1,685 a month, but if they are able to find some work, the program will actually top them up above that amount. So, if you still think cutting people off is just about incentivizing them to find work, you’re not just selfish… you’re gullible.

The United Conservatives have taken aim at every single one of our most vulnerable, some on multiple occasions, and all before the halfway point of their term. Honestly, are there any Albertans left who don’t see what they’re doing? If there are, then why?

Email me. Tell me what Kenney has done to make Alberta better. Tell me that his every move hasn’t exacerbated problems he said he was coming here to fix. Tell me the future of this province is bright under this man’s so-called leadership.

Let’s say the UCP’s new criteria cuts AISH recipients by, say, 10 per cent. That would save a cool $128 million. Please give me an explanation for why taking survival support from a group of Albertans the size of Ponoka is worth knocking 0.14 per cent off the $94 billion in debt the province is about to be in.

Kenney doesn’t hate debt. He hates public services. He hates them because they cost money, but more importantly, he hates them because they clash with an individualistic ideology that has been ingrained into his pedestrian personality for 30 years.

Cutting off people with disabilities isn’t because Jason Kenney is willing to be cruel to get what he wants. Cutting off people with disabilities is because the thing Jason Kenney wants is cruel by nature.

Scott Schmidt is the layout editor for the Medicine Hat News. Email him at sschmidt@medicinehatnews.com, or follow him on Twitter at @shmitzysays

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