‘We need to fix the mess’: Prince Albert area disability advocate speaks out at Parliament Hill

Quinn Smith-Windsor (right) speaks on Parliament Hill about Bill C-22 on Wednesday, Oct. 19. -- Submitted photo

A local artist, entrepreneur and aspiring disability advocate traveled to Parliament Hill to speak out about her struggles as a disabled university student amid debates at the House of Commons about Bill C-22, The Canada Disability Benefit.

Quinn Smith-Windsor was joined by other Canadians with disabilities, advocates, and allies from across the country for a rally in Ottawa on Wednesday organized by grassroots disability advocacy groups, including Disability Without Poverty.

Smith-Windsor said the experience at the rally was wonderful for her and she feels she was able to get her message across.

After being intrigued by one of the movement’s Facebook posts, Smith-Windsor brought it up to her university professor who then helped her organize her participation with the group.

“I’m going to do my part to eliminate disability poverty,” said Smith-Windsor before she left for Ottawa. “I am going to use my voice.”

According to Smith-Windsor, the federal and provincial income programs for people with disabilities are full of holes.

“I am a quadriplegic but was removed from Saskatchewan Assured Income for persons with Disability (SAID) because I registered in university. I have no income now unless I drop out of university and go back on SAID. That is not an option. We need to fix the mess of provincial and federal disability supports,” she said.

Smith-Windsor sells paintings and art cards, but like many Saskatchewan people with disabilities she mainly relies on SAID, which she says is not enough to live on.

“The biggest reason to support the Canadian Disability Benefit is so all Canadians with disabilities have opportunities to thrive,” said Smith-Windsor. “It shouldn’t be so hard to do ordinary things like find housing, go to university, live independently, and afford groceries.”

In Saskatchewan the poverty line is $1,902 per month. SAID provides $1,064 per month for persons with disabilities who qualify.

Smith-Windsor believes, “this is a system designed to keep people with disabilities in poverty.”

According to Statistics Canada, 41 per cent of Canadians living in poverty have a disability.

According to the Disability Without Poverty website, the rally was held during the same week as the UN Day for the Elimination of Poverty.