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Fighting to keep his benefits

Community Services restores support after letter to local newspaper

by Robert Devet

Sydney resident George Cartwright fought back when told that he would lose his benefit because his spouse earns too much. After a letter to the local paper, Community Services found a way to restore funding. It pays to fight back, says Cartwright, but how many are afraid to do so?  Photo contributed.
Sydney resident George Cartwright fought back when told that he would lose his benefit because his spouse earns too much. After a letter to the local paper, Community Services found a way to restore funding. It pays to fight back, says Cartwright, but how many are afraid to do so? Photo contributed.

(K'JIPUKTUK), HALIFAX - “I was always taught to fight for what you believe in,” says George Cartwright, a 33-year old resident of Sydney, Nova Scotia who was born with spina bifida and uses a wheelchair.

So fight he did when the Nova Scotia Department of Community Services told him he was no longer eligible for financial support.

The problem started when Cartwright moved in with his long-time partner a year ago.

Community Services informed him recently that he would stop receiving his benefits because his spouse earns too much.

“But she really doesn't make enough money to support me,” says Cartwright, who explains that he received about $5800 per year from the department prior to the decision.

Cartwright argues that the rule creates undue hardship for people who live with disabilities.

And it doesn't make sense, he says. The care that his partner provides for free would cost at least $12,000 per year if provided by professional caregivers.

Rather than accept the decision by Community Services, Cartwright started making a bit of noise.

In early September he wrote a letter to the editor of the Cape Breton Post, and the paper followed up with a longer story. He also started a petition.

All of a sudden things improved.

“Two weeks ago I had a meeting with the supervisor in the North Sydney Community Services office,” Cartwright tells the Halifax Media Co-op.

“Apparently there was some money that I was entitled to all along that Community Services had never mentioned before,” says Cartwright.

With the newly-found money Cartwright is essentially back to the same level of funding he received prior to the decision.

Lori Errington, spokesperson for Community Services, told the Cape Breton Post that she cannot speak to the specifics of Cartwright's case because of privacy concerns.

She also mentioned that Community Services is reviewing its support programs, and plans to consult with stakeholders and income assistance recipients.

Cartwright wonders how many people on social assistance are out there, in the same boat but unable to speak up.

Some people on income assistance feel intimidated, and others simply don't know their rights, he says.

“Basically I feel I was handed a bone to shut me up,” says Cartwright. “If I was entitled to this before, than why wasn't I told this earlier?”

 

For further information or to sign the petition, send an email to george_20@hotmail.com

Follow Robert Devet on Twitter @DevetRobert

 

 

 

 

 


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Topics: Health
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Comments

As someone who has also been fallowing up on this story!

I will start my comment by publicy thanking Robert for Covering this. When I had first found this article on line, I got to thinking "what can i as a poverty Advoact who lives in Halifax do to help this person out whereas Sydney Mines is 4 to 6 hours away from Halifax". Reading this article, I must say  "Myself as a poverty advoact in Halifax", felt sorry that I do not have the resources to travel to Sydney to help man outwith his fight. Also I got thinking that say if he was to live in Halfiax instead of Sydney, he wouod have alot more advocey, and support behind him to help him with his fight. The support he would have here in Halfiax behind him would include, Community Advocates Network, Accron, Dal Legal Aid, North End Community Health Centre, and severial Dorp-in's. Through Community Advoaces Network, he would have an oppertuinity to attend a group the thrid Tursday of every month to talk about his situation and fight. I do worry about what similar oppertuity for advocey and support does he have by living in Sydney Mines/Sydney? However as a povery Advocacte in Halifax, two ways I am helping him with his fight are #1 - I had added him as a freind to my facebook and he accepted my friendship. #2 - I had been about him and his fight at Community Advoacts Network meetings. #3 - I am currentially working on a letter t othe editor of the Cape Breaton Post. I think all povery advocates should help him out with his fight because he is not alone when it come to having problems with ESIA. Evenknow he lives in Sydeny, he still recieves his ssitance under the Jurdiuction of Nova Scotia Department of Communty Services. Evenknow at present his asstaince did not end, he is getting less money from the system the nhe did before. Having less of an income to live on does take away from his indepences level. So I encourage him to continue his fight.  I will end my comment by saying "If Groge Cartwright has the ablity to travel to Halifax, inviting him to attend a meeting of CAN'S, at the JBO centre on Gottengin Street. The next meeting is Thursday November 20th. I whcih him well with his fight.

 

Kendall Worth 

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