Disability Without Poverty created bleakmarket.com, a landing page filled with listings meant to “evoke the dark web” to show how some Canadians have had to resort to selling essential items to make ends meet. (bleakmarket.com)

Canadians living with disabilities forced to sell essential items just to survive: Advocacy group

Website highlights lack of awareness, calls on government to pass Canada Disability Benefit Act

It’s a choice nobody should have to make, but Canadians living with disabilities are having to sell their essential items on online marketplaces in order to make ends meet.

Rabia Khedr, the national director for Disability Without Poverty, said these situations are becoming “more and more common as poverty becomes worse and worse.”

They’re calling on the federal government to expedite Bill C-22, the Canada Disability Benefit Act, which is currently going through the senate. The promise for Bill C-22 came during the throne speech in September 2020.

READ MORE: New disability benefit would make ‘major difference’ in many Canadians’ lives

“We are appealing to the senate to expedite the hearing, make any minor amendments that they need to make,” she explained. “We don’t want to see any substantive amendments that reopen a debate in the house.”

With that, Disability Without Poverty created bleakmarket.com, a landing page filled with listings meant to “evoke the dark web.” It shows postings for medication, walkers, power wheelchair and a glucose monitor, and each posting includes a “Buy Now” button that then takes people to another page with an audio recording explaining the circumstances why someone would be selling the item and a prompt to prevent the sale.

Khedr said these are stories that should compel people to take action to stop people from having to make “such difficult and unfathomable choices just to survive.” Through the site, she said, people are prompted to email Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, federal Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland and federal Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion Carla Qualtrough.

“People are very surprised that this is actually happening here in their backyard. There’s a misconception that disabled people receive all the supports they need from the system,” Khedr explained. “There’s a lack of awareness about it, and yet, 41 per cent of people living in poverty are disabled and 50 per cent of people facing food insecurity are disabled.”

Khedr noted people living with disabilities were already living in poverty pre-pandemic, but they’ve since found themselves deeper into poverty in the last three years.

“Somebody who cannot walk, to whom a power chair is their way to move around with dignity and have some movement and access to movement, they’re willing to sell their power chair to buy food,” she said.

“They’re willing to sell their crutches to pay their bills. They’re willing to sell their medication that supports them on a daily basis to manage their daily lives. They’re being forced to sell those medications to be able to afford things important to them and essential to them.

“It’s a choice nobody should have to make.”

Disability Without Poverty sent an open letter to senate in March asking them to act with urgency to pass the bill in the current sitting period.

READ MORE: Canada’s first national accessibility law tabled in Ottawa


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