Roundtable: Radical Disability Politics

Routledge Handbook of Radical Politics Cover. Enlarged piece of tree bark with small amount of moss growing in it.Liat Ben-Moshe and I were lucky enough to edit a round table on disability politics a while ago and it came out recently in the book Routledge Handbook of Radical Politics which is edited by Ruth Kinna and Uri Gordon. There are an amazing group of contributors: Lydia X. Z. BrownLoree Erickson, Rachel da Silveira Gorman, Talila A. LewisLateef McLeod and Mia Mingus

Click here to read “Radical Disability Politics”

I also have another chapter in the book: “Fighting to Win: Radical Anti-poverty Organising.” It talks about anti-poverty organizing in general but also draws a lot on what we have learned in the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty about anti-poverty organizing.




A Partial Explaination for My Long Absence

I haven’t posted in a long time. I had planned on putting my old zines up but I didn’t get to it. There are a lot of things that have come together to mean that this blog has taken the back burner. There are two big ones though, the fact that writing has basically become my job and I got a bad back injury. 

Writing: My book finally came out! I have been working on A Violent History of Benevolence: Interlocking Oppression in the Moral Economies of Social Working since 2011 with my brilliant friend Chris Chapman. It is about the history of social work, Cover of A Violent History of a  very broad sense (including a lot of activism) and how it enacts and obscures systemic violence. I will write another post about it soon (haven’t done it because I am a bit self-sabotagey).

A bunch of years ago now, my health improved some and I decided to try my hand at academia. I figured, with the flexibility it provided (and that I already did research and writing for fun) it was a job I could do; so, I went into grad school. Now, I am going into year 7 of my PhD (super crunch time to finish my dissertation). It has been both difficult and ridiculous to try to co-write a book that is quite unrelated to my dissertation during my PhD. 

Basically, writing is what I do all of the time (when I am not in too much pain, anyway). The idea of sitting down to write blog articles has just been hellish. I used to write to survive – that is something that academia took from me; or, maybe I am surviving better now that I am not on social assistance and I don’t need to write in the same way.   

Back injury: Nearly four years ago now, I got a devastating back injury. The drugs that made it so I could get out of bed and walk around without screaming gave me pretty intense short-term amnesia. My recovery from all of this, and my spinal surgery, has been long and slow. I am doing a lot better but my capacity has been much reduced.

You can read a bit about that in my piece “Cracks in My Universe” in Rebellious Mourning which is edited by Cindy Milstein. I also plan to write more about this one day. I have been writing about it in my head for years and it has kind of kept me from writing anything in this blog.

I have a few things I plan to put up in short order but wanted to just sort of say “hi” again first.

Thanks to everyone who has kept checking in every once in a while. And special thanks to everyone who has supported me over the last few hard years.


Sign the letter: Our Lives are Not an “Excessive Demand”

Pencil drawing of a group of about 25 protesters in a line holding a banner that says "Access Denied." The protesters are a divers group, some standing and some sitting in wheelchairs. In the background several protestors are holding banners that say "End Austerity - Stop the" (the word cuts is obscured) and "Justice." Several protesters are also holding placards.

Remove Disablism from Canadian Immigration Rules Now

Click here to sign on!

The Honourable Ahmed Hussan, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

Members of the Standing Committee of Citizenship and Immigration

As members and supporters of disabled, Deaf, mad, psychiatric consumer/survivor, and disability-labeled communities, we call on the Federal Government to immediately remove the “excessive demand” clause and other disablist regulations from the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, and to ensure the fair treatment of migrant workers and their family members who have been impacted by them.

While Prime Minister Justin Trudeau claims “we cannot rest until persons with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else,” section 38(1)(c) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act excludes disabled people, including people living with HIV, and some trans people, from Canada. Section 38(1)(c) allows for an applicant to be rejected by providing the basis to reject an  applicant if they or their family member “might reasonably be expected to cause excessive demand on health or social services.”

The “excessive demand” clause prevents  disabled people from immigrating to Canada, and denies citizenship to people who have become disabled while working in Canada as part of federal temporary work schemes.

The “excessive demand” clause shuts out migrants and immigrants who have lived and worked in Canada for many years if they or one of their dependents are disabled.

The “excessive demand” clause constructs disabled people only in negative terms – solely as a drain on resources. It erases the valuable contributions of disabled people to their communities.

The “excessive demand” clause increases the vulnerability and exploitation of low-waged migrant workers who become sick or injured because of sub-standard work conditions in Canada, These workers are then denied permanent status based on their injuries.

Migrant workers who have come to Canada through federal schemes such as the Caregiver or the Live-In Caregiver Program (CP), Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP), or Temporary Foreign Workers Program (TFWP)  cannot change workplaces without losing their work permits, which means they cannot easily refuse dangerous or unsafe work, forcing them to risk illness or serious injury.

Caregivers are the only group of low-waged migrant workers with a Federal pathway to permanent residency after a period of working in Canada. However, if they become ill or injured during the qualification period, they can be excluded under the “excessive demand clause”. Caregivers won protections against this initially under the Juana Tejada law in 2010, but these were reneged in 2014. The “excessive demand” clause also means that caregivers with sick or disabled children or partners cannot become permanent residents. The CP also discriminates against caregivers with disabilities by requiring a medical exam before getting permit.

The Charter guarantees equality before and under the law and the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination, including on the basis of disability. Section 38 (1)(c) specifically violates the Charter.

The House of Parliament’s Standing Committee on Citizenship is currently holding hearings on Medical Inadmissibility (“excessive demand”).

We demand that the Canadian Government immediately:

  1. Remove the “excessive demand” clause Section 38(1)(c) from the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
  2. Immediately grant permanent residency to everyone who was denied permanent residency on disability grounds in the last 10 years.

Ultimately, we demand that the Canadian government eliminate all disablist policies and regulations and ensure permanent immigration status for all, including permanent residency on arrival for migrant workers.

Click here to sign on!