System makes people feel like "lowlife"

Staff ~ The Compass
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Dear editor,

Would you please publish this letter, which I have sent to the Department of Health and Community Services, Bay Roberts and Jerome Kennedy, Minister of Health and Community Services.

I am writing you to inquire why you have taken away a service that David Doyle was availing of for a number of years to clean his teeth.

Letters to the editor -

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Dear editor,

Would you please publish this letter, which I have sent to the Department of Health and Community Services, Bay Roberts and Jerome Kennedy, Minister of Health and Community Services.

I am writing you to inquire why you have taken away a service that David Doyle was availing of for a number of years to clean his teeth.

David is a 53-year-old male with Down's Syndrome, who has not obtained much from this provincial government.

It cost you (government) $124.00 dollars a year and now you say that he can't have it.

It has only been this past four to six years that we have asked anything for him because we began to find out about what he was entitled to. We did not hear this from any social worker of his at the time because he did not see much of them until several years ago when things were finally being requested. It is interesting to note that a social worker did say that they knew he was here but because nothing was being asked then they didn't offer. So for all those years your worker used your system to ignore and neglected him because of your own unwritten policy of don't spend if you can get away with it. Another reason that your system and workers got off with it for so long is because your system and workers used the parents' own failings and ignorance concerning the fact that they were themselves brought up in a time when someone like David was kept out of public view.

I and my wife moved back to Newfoundland and Labrador in 2005 when David's mom, my mother fell and broke her hip at the age of 85. There was talk of them being put into a home, but that was not happening if I could help it. Soon after I started to look for things for David, I was told, in the words of one of your social workers, if we continue looking for funding for David they would have to look at the feasibility of keeping David in the community. Not a nice thing to say to us about my brother. I don't take kindly to threats. You won't take my brother away from his home as easily as that. For this worker to say this only indicates your system and workers lack of caring and understanding of someone like David. To you and your workers it is only a job, look good to the boss, not the client.

I myself had to avail of your government system over the years a few times, and I always found myself feeling like a lowlife because that is the way the system and its workers make a lot of people feel.

The largest employer in Newfoundland and Labrador is the provincial government and this department is one that has been accused for years of giving too much to people by the public in particular. Well I would like to let the public know that (in my opinion) the administration of the system costs more than what is given to its clients. That includes salaries of workers at all levels and the rental of building space that could be done for less. The benefits and perks, let alone the salaries, of the administration are enough to support many of its clients, but this goes to individuals who work for the system not families or individuals like David who need it. But then again there are some families and individuals who do seem to get more than others. Usually that is because of the personal views and attitudes of the worker at the time, not a strictly professional view.

I am planning to ask some newspapers to publish this letter because of the backlash I am expecting from your department. Maybe that will lessen the resulting damage to David's future.

Really I am thinking of leaving this province and going somewhere in this country where David will be given freely the help he deserves.

Edwin J. Doyle

Gull Island

Organizations: Department of Health and Community, Bay Roberts and Jerome Kennedy, Community Services

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Gull Island

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  • wanda white
    December 30, 2012 - 23:00

    Dear Mr. Doyle, Iread this letter of 2010 to the Compass today with great interest. I too, am disabled, in a wheelchair for the most part, and like you, I feel as if the system would rather deny services wherever they can to save the provincial government money. I have a light bill of $200 per month for electric heat which was 'forced' upon me via the housing grants. I cannot afford to pay this bill monthly because doing so would mean I have to literally and factually give up eating in order to have the money. That is NOT why I am responding. I have founded a page to advocated for people living below the poverty level. Its called 'THE FACES OF POVERTY IN NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR. I respectfully seek your permission to copy and paste this letter to that page. You may contact me via facebook 2 wanda_gene@hotmail.com. If more people were to speak out via the public forums of radio, tv papers and the internet, maybe we could go a long way to change the system to better benefit the poor. Wanda White.