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Fergus woman thinks of death rather than pain and poverty

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Jacqueline Holyoake eyes medically assisted death due to fibromyalgia’s devastating quality of life and ‘unlivable’ ODSP payments

FERGUS – A Fergus woman with a disability in the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) has had such a low quality of life that she is in the process of being approved for Medicaid during her death (MAID).

Jacqueline Holyoke doesn’t think it has to be this way, and if ODSP did more to enable her and others to take care of themselves, she probably wouldn’t be so keen on the idea. Start this process.

Holyoake, 59, has lived in Fergus for 12 years and suffers from severe fibromyalgia, a condition that can include widespread musculoskeletal pain associated with fatigue, sleep, memory and mood problems.

Diagnosed at 31, she says she can’t walk more than 20 feet at a time because of the pain, which she says has gotten worse in recent months.

She lives alone and has little family support.

Holyoake recently expressed his frustration on social media.

I had the longest stint as a Physician Assistant before it got really difficult about 12 years ago. Her ex later stopped paying spousal support, leaving her with no choice but to go to ODSP just as the COVID shutdown began.

“I was 172 pounds then, and now I’m 107,” Holyoake said in an interview at his apartment. “I lost a lot of weight not because I’m on a diet, and I can’t afford food. »

Holyoak receives $1,228 per month from the ODSP, most of which is paid for by rent for a county-owned apartment costing $756 per month.

By the time other bills and minimal medication are paid, Holyoake is left with an average of $60 a week to live off.

“I pretty much live off milk and cereal and hamburgers,” Holyoake said, adding that she trained her body to live off one meal a day.

With such a tight budget, there isn’t much room for surprises like the upcoming rent increase in March. His coffee machine recently stopped working. She can’t replace it, she just has to live without it.

Buying a bathing seat meant she had to forgo food as she had to save up and buy it herself.

Holyoke loves football and music but has lost all his hobbies because there is no room in the budget for that.

Once the FIFA World Cup is over, you won’t see anything else that will be there yet.

“Since I’ve been on ODSP, everything has been taken away from me,” Holyoake said.

Holyoake said she’s heard or thought of all the solutions to her problems, including whether the ODSP pays some expenses or someone else moves in to share resources and act as a caregiver.

She explained that moving someone else home would lessen what the ODSP had done for her and that recent difficulties in getting to her appointments had left her without a doctor, and left her without the possibility of a degree.

According to Holyoake, dealing with an ODSP on the phone is also a stressful task for people with stress-related disabilities.

“All you need is six phone calls, a week of work and forgetting to call you back to the point where I didn’t even finish what I started because it’s too much work,” Holyoake said.

“They put you through a lot of loops and you don’t get it in the end anyway. I just gave up.”

Holyoak realizes that there are many good people living in Wellington County and that resources are available for those in poverty, such as a local food bank.

She said sometimes she has no choice but to accept donations or gifts, but she doesn’t like that and feels it shouldn’t be up to charities to fill in what the ODSP doesn’t.

She called on the county to require the ODSP to provide sufficient income for her and others she knows in this situation to enable them to care for themselves.

She invites Premier Doug Ford to sit down and talk to her to find out the truth about the situation ODSP recipients find themselves in.

‘I want to sit down and I want to look him in the eye and I want him to say, because I’m disabled, why do I owe myself $1,228 and why do you expect other people to take care of me instead for you?’ Holyoake said, acknowledging that the chances of him sitting with Ford are slim.

The ODSP problem isn’t why Holyoak explores options with MAID, but it doesn’t help.

She said her fibromyalgia pain had worsened over the past few months. She completed her first assessment about four months ago and met about 80% of the criteria and will be re-evaluating soon due to the recent bombings.

“I don’t choose med because of ODSP, I choose med because of pain,” Holyoake said.

“However, if I had the quality of life here, would I be so careful in choosing a maid?” Absolutely not, because ODSP makes my life so hard, at the end of the day I’m exhausted and I don’t have a quality of life and I don’t do anything.


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