September 9, 2022.
I've been on provincial PWD Income Assistance for 13 years.
In a few days' time, it'll be exactly one year since my last failed attempt at filing a formal complaint against BC's Ministry of Social Development (SDPR) via the BC Human Rights Tribunal.
I've filed three separate complaints vs SDPR and have failed all three times. My complaint has to do with the ongoing clawback of my Survivor's Pension as so-called 'Unearned Income'. My first wife passed away in 2013 and my monthly PWD cheque shrunk because SDPR subtracted every penny of my $715/month Survivor's Pension monies.
Then in 2015, 'The Single Mother's Alliance' famously took SDPR to court over clawbacks to Child Support payments and won. As a result of that victory, I got my son's $230/month 'Orphan's Portion' reinstated. Unfortunately, SDPR still claws back almost $500 from my Survivor's Pension every month.
A whole pension -in its entirety- is paid out in good faith for very good reason, always. Someone really needs to explain to me how Child Support payments from divorced parents are 'Earned Income' since 2015 but the bulk of my Survivor's Pension (via a dead spouse) remains illegitimate.
The BC Ministry of Social Development is essentially saying, "Congratulations on the death of your beloved spouse, you now deserve a clawback." SDPR is balancing its books in the cruellest and most perverse way possible. How is this righteous social policy?
In my official decision/response letter from BC Human Rights Tribunal it was explained to me as follows...
The clawback of my Survivor's Pension is not discriminatory because SDPR also claws back CPP monies from elderly folk, too. As long as SDPR mistreats me - a person with a disability - the same as they mistreat everyone else on provincial Income Assistance, it is not considered #Discrimination. In other words, systemic discrimination so long as it is *equally distributed* somehow ceases to be discrimination. Wow.
To me, the explanation given by the Tribunal here is super ridiculous.
All pensions are paid into & contributed to through work. Pensions are indeed 'Earned Income', it's just income deferred for a rainy day. Even so, BC Ministry of Social Development doesn't care about truth. The Ministry arbitrarily cherry-picks my Survivor's Pension as 'Unearned' every month; it continues to claw me back every friggin' month! That SDPR has the power to cherry-pick & de-legitimize any portion of my pension is totally messed up.
Pensions are protected income under federal and provincial labour laws. Why is perverting protected pensions allowed? Clawbacks mean that my Survivor's Pension isn't allowed to function as intended. How is banning equal access & equal rights to pension monies not discriminatory? What was once tangible protected income has been reconstructed into something completely different. SDPR has turned my Survivor's pension into a pink unicorn, a made-up thing of pure fantasy. How are SDPR's pink unicorns not discriminatory??
BCHRT needs to explain "equal distribution" of DISCRIMINATION to all those who attended Aboriginal residential schools. Please explain the "equal distribution" of DISCRIMINATION to every Jewish person who remembers the Holocaust. Please explain BCHRT's concept of "equal distribution" to the black community who not so long ago had to endure the systemic discrimination of specially designated 'black drinking fountains' and 'black washrooms'. And it really isn't so long ago that all women weren't allowed to vote, either.
In hindsight, we can unanimously agree that each one of these past systemic discriminations were wrong. And yet, all of these discriminations were "equally distributed". Systemic discrimination persists precisely because of a stubborn belief in "equal distribution" and the wrong-headed logic behind it.
So, let's return to the clawback of my Survivor's Pension.
Every systemic discrimination stems from a profound untruth. It is simply untrue (a blatant lie, even) for pensions to be labelled 'Unearned Income' and no amount of equal distribution should obliterate that fact.
~ Neil Matheson, aka Daddy Bent-Legs
"Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you." ~ James 1:27 (NLT)
#PWD #LegislatedPoverty #BCHRT #StopTheClawbacks #EndTheClawbacks #DERB
Neil & Jake with BC premier John Horgan (and Nicholas Simons & David Eby)