My name is Lloyd and I am 46 years old. Let me start with a little personal history. When I was 18 I was in a car crash and broke my back. I had a surgery to repair it which took me about 2 years to recover from. After that I went back to work and a somewhat normal life. When I was 32 I had a fall and rebroke my original injury(including all the repairs that had been done). So with that, another surgery. Unfortunately this second surgery did not go so well. I suffer with terrible to horrible pain depending on the day. A couple of years after this surgery I got on ODSP.
My wife and I languished on ODSP for years. Even though she worked it was still very difficult because the rules of ODSP do not allow for couples to have two “incomes”. Fifty percent of everything my wife makes is deducted from my cheque.
When we were lucky enough to be accepted to the Basic Income Pilot our lives changed. We were able to start eating healthier which resulted in both of us losing about forty pounds each. We had gained that weight over years of having to eat carb heavy food because it is cheaper and it was all we could afford. My wife and I were able to start putting money into an RRSP/Mutual Fund to save for our retirement which is impossible on ODSP. We were able to buy new clothes as opposed to second hand which we still do buy but that is out of choice. We were also able to afford for my wife to take a vacation for the first time. We didn’t do anything significant but it did wonders for my wife’s mental well being.
One of the biggest changes that Basic Income allowed was that I was starting to look for work. The problem I had doing this on disability was that my back most days is a 6 or 7 on the pain scale which I have learned to live with the best I can. I don’t know, however when I am going to wake up and that pain increases to a 10 which happens periodically. The other issue with this pain increase is I do not know how long this pain will last. The last time this happened to me it lasted a year and a half and I had to use a cane to walk and could barely move. Basic Income was going to allow me to test the waters and see if I could work and what kind of job I might be able to have and still have an income. On disability I was terrified that if I did get a job and I was okay for a year, lets say, and I was removed from ODSP what would happen if after I was removed my pain increased and was unable to continue to work. The process of getting Disability is not easy and my wife does not make enough to support two adults while I go through this process.
These are just a few of the improvements to our lives that Basic Income allowed. Now that we are going to lose the Pilot Project I don’t know what we are going to do. My wife’s income has increased some since I was last on disability and I have no idea what my cheque is going to look like. I do know that there will be no more retirement savings, new things, healthy food or comfortable job find for me. I am worried about my wife’s mental wellness because we can not afford for her to take time of work. To be honest I am just worried. I don’t know what our future both immediate and long term holds for us. We are just going to have to plan for the worst and hope for the best.