Sunday, May 10, 2009

April 2: Chad and Super Rick T present their kazine article:"ARC Industries and Torchlight: Job training or Slave Labour?

Super Rick T wrote this article in the latest Kazine (a local edited collage of poetry, images and writing, that is made in Guelph):

"ARC Industries and Torchlight: Job Training or Slave Labour?
Part One

There are work placements that people with special needs and seniors
with special needs work at called Torchlight and ARC Industries (aka
Adult Rehabilitative Centre). Torchlight only pays their workers
$0.20 an hour, ARC Industries only pays $0.70 an hour. I think this
is slavery. I think they should pay the same as a regular work
placement, or at the very least substantially more than these slave

These placements are funded by the government who gives disability
pensions to people who need them. I've heard one of the possible
reasons the wages are so low is so that the earnings of the employees
won't be high enough to affect their pension. If a person with
special needs has a part time job they get $0.50 taken off their
pension for every dollar they make at their job so the less they make
the less will be taken off. But a person with special needs would be
better served to get paid more cause they would still be up $0.50 and
get motivated to work more maybe. Paying them such little amounts is
degrading and is sort of exploiting them.

When i did a telephone interview with ARC Industries they told me
the reason why they pay so low is because it's a training allowance,
not a wage. I think that's nonsense. The lady I spoke to was very
rude to both me and my friend Boston when we spoke on the phone to
them. They tried to get rid of us right away, then tried to pass us
off to an extension that was a dead end, and then finally talked to us
but not before saying we better keep it short. I've also heard that
some of the supervisors there are rude to the workers and not very
patient which seems believable after how we were treated on the phone.

Another problem is that some people who work there will never go on
to work somewhere else. So ARC saying that they don't pay a wage and
instead a training allowance is bogus because some of the people
aren't even being trained to move onto anywhere else. I realize these are
the only work placements for some people to work at but at least the
supervisors could be a little more patient and kind.

This issue is complicated and I know ARC Industries and Torchlight
have a lot of pros and cons so I will further explore and research to
figure out more what is going on. I plan to do a second more in depth
interview with them before the next kazine that is why this is just
part one of this article.'

They came on the show, and read the article, and discussed their experiences and impressions of Torch Light and Arc Industries. The article is great. And Both Chad and Rick are clear and thoughtful in their approach of the issues they address.
What really stuck with me from the article was the importance of respect for disabled people to speak for themselves. There has clearly been a severe lack of consultation from the folks who are employed at Torchlight and Arc Industries, and using their programs, as to how things could improve.

Let me know if you want a copy of this interview.

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