“Minister Jeffrey: Tear down this wall”

In July 2012, I visited Berlin for the first time since 1972 when the Berlin wall was still standing. It was interesting to see how parts of the wall had been retained as an outdoor museum.

No matter where I went, memorabilia celebrating the famous call by Ronald Reagan on June 12, 1987 were available. On that day, Reagan famously intoned “Mr. Gorbachev – tear down this wall”.

On June 11, 2013, just one day short of the anniversary of Reagan’s famous speech, many of us will be celebrating the launch of Linda Chamberlain’s scrapbook: Not Anytime Soon – the life and times of Linda Chamberlain.

We shall invite Ontario Housing Minister Linda Jeffrey to the event.

Not Anytime Soon contains excerpts of a meditation I wrote in 2010 called Zero Dollar Linda. In this piece, I coined the term the ‘Linda Chamberlain rule’ to describe what is known as the monthly non-benefit rental income limit that increases the rent of a single ODSP recipient to the rent geared to income scale when their earnings exceed $440 a month.

This is the rule that sent Linda’s rent from $109 a month to $623 when she began to work at CAMH.

Ontario Housing legislation was renewed in 2011 but the Linda Chamberlain rule remains intact.

With Budget 2013, ODSP would allow the Linda Chamberlains of the world to keep the first $200 they earn without penalty. Now the Ministry of Housing must do its part.

Minister Jeffrey can change the Linda Chamberlain rule by capping RGI rent increases to the maximum ODSP shelter maximum. By allowing rents to go higher than the maximum ODSP, the housing scale creates a wall – a wall that Linda could not surmount.

This would be a simple change. It would ensure more ODSP recipients in housing would work and breathe life into the $200 exemption; it would provide more funds to housing providers. It would pay the same amount that ODSP would pay to anyone moving out of subsidized housing.

And if my historical research is correct, the Linda Chamberlain rule was in place before Mr. Reagan implored Mr. Gorbachev to unite East and West Germany.

On the day after Linda’s book launch, Minister Jeffreys could celebrate an important  anniversary.

Minister Jeffrey –tear down this wall!