Originally posted at: http://www.richmond-news.com/community/rick-hansen-calls-for-establishing-federal-disabilities-act-1.2018163
Philip Raphael  / Richmond News
July 31, 2015 11:12 AM

Well-known accessibility advocate and Richmond resident Rick Hansen has added his voice calling for establishing a federal disabilities act.

Hansen, who made his mark during his Man in Motion round the world wheelchair tour in the 1980s, is supporting a non-partisan campaign to ensure accessibility, inclusion, and equal opportunity for Canadians with disabilities.

It’s part of Barrier-Free Canada’s initiative to advocate for an enactment of a strong and effective Canadians with Disabilities Act (CDA), which the organization says will enable people with disabilities to live to their full potential.

“I strongly urge all parties to support the enactment of legislation to make accessibility and inclusion a reality throughout Canada, for the benefit of Canadians with disabilities, their families, and a stronger nation,” Hansen said in a press release. “A Canadians with Disabilities Act would be a fantastic 150th birthday present to help build our country, whose constitution clearly envisions Canadians with disabilities as equal and contributing citizens. Accessibility and inclusion are human rights.”

Toronto lawyer David Lepofsky, a member of Barrier-Free Canada’s steering committee, told the News while there is protection against discrimination in Canada’s Charter of Rights, a new law would help not only those with disabilities, but those needing specific direction on what to provide in terms of required access.

Some provinces — Ontario and Manitoba — already have such laws on their books, and Nova Scotia is looking at their own, too.

Enacting laws governing accessibility can also often have widespread effect, something Lepofsky experienced when he successfully campaigned for the Toronto Transit Commis- sion to provide audible stop announcements.

After the changes were made Lepofsky, who is blind, received many messages from transit riders who were not disabled, thanking him for the help the audible announcements provided on crowded buses or at night.

Lepofsky added a disability act is especially important given the society’s aging population. According to Barrier-Free Canada more than four million Canadians live with some form of disability — expected to grow to more than nine million over the next 15 years.

© 2015 Richmond News

One Reply to “Rick Hansen calls for establishing federal disabilities act”

  1. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/lily-morinville-girl-with-developmental-delays-relieved-to-be-placed-in-group-home-1.3223881

    Lack of Viable Supports and Injurious Direction

    September 13, 2015

    Contrary to protests of workers who declare that the Department does not direct families to surrender guardianship of children in effort to attain access to services, I hold no doubt that the family offers sincere rendition of true encounters with varied staff who conveyed that course of action. Displacing families remains an injurious practice hindering Society and one which must cease.

    It is a tremendously difficult situation from all perspectives when the needs of a loved one exceed a family’s capability. Foremost the youth’s rights are unmet, but those of siblings and parents all factor and require genuine attention. Social-workers, too, lack support from administration and are limited in ability to offer alternative options. Stigma exists where the System enters a family’s life; an endless cycle of blame which impedes constructive solution.

    Tragically, there are legitimate circumstances in which options are minimized due to potential for significant physical harm where vulnerable younger siblings or frail elders co-habitat in the same residence. Likewise, situations exist, where once able-bodied parents readily equip to physically meet demands are now limited due to natural aging process. This is particularly problematic amongst youth who lack skills to de-escalate emotion or capacity to comprehend the adverse ramifications of their strength.

    The incident described is certainly isolated nor one in which fault-finding is productive. These are issues developing universally amongst families. As the “Baby-Boomer Generation” increases, some are taxed with the care of ailing elders as well.

    Conditions for harm, burn-out, substance abuse, marital breakdown and poverty are ripe amongst this population unless assistance is rendered. Employment becomes limited due to necessity of duel-income earners who must depart positions to become full-time caregivers responsible for safety, medical appointments and evaluations. Strained relations and deteriorating health may lead to family collapse rendering a parent solely responsible for all financial and care duties.

    The Ombudsman for Ontario, Andre Marin, has long-recognized this issue and been a strong voice of activism. A Report was created – “Between a Rock and a Hard Place” – offering insight into family perspectives and challenges.

    There are viable solutions in which a host of humanities can contribute to ease tolls. Clinics and services operating outside of normal business hours, weekends or evenings, for example. Continuing education initiatives to increase skills of persons with developmental diversity can help with gainful, meaningful employment and activities. In turn, more happy, productive individuals in home and community. Lack of options is a grave concern for individuals and families as youth approach aging adulthood. A magic numerical number somehow is drawn in which the System expects an individual to naturally mold themselves to. New physicians must be found for youth who no longer fit pediatric criteria. Educational services end, plummeting once creative, busy lives into an abyss of inactivity and boredom. Ideally, as a truly inclusive society, obstacles would not be over-whelming. Some solutions are simple alterations in how we approach change based upon individual family incentives and values.

    An assortment of confusing forms must be impeccably filled-out prior to transition from child supports into the adult realm. Response to numerous questionnaires are daunting and perplexing for some who feel circumstances are readily clear, yet we strap families with additional burdens. Parents effectively convey frustration with red-tape: “My child has required supports since they were an infant. A stack of documentation already exists. Why can’t information just be reviewed or have a worker come to visit and interview my child?” However, as the saying goes, nothing is ever simple; “common-sense isn’t so common.”

    Direct example: A family whose child with significant needs is approaching 18 birthday. Policy requires establishment of a direct-deposit banking account for government supplemental income support. Years of experience with one’s loved one have taught family to anticipate such an appointment will be challenging as it involves travel with a child who has difficulty with mobility, is non-verbal and hearing-impaired. An unfamiliar environment will likely result in over-stimulation and become problematic as forms require attention. Supervision will be a hurdle so the family telephones ahead to ensure they have the correct information to abide by Policy guidelines before undertaking course of action. They are informed that a parent can present documents directly without the child being in attendance. Time from work is taken and a caregiver hired. At the Office, staff disagrees with previous advise; the child will need to be physically present. The convey that the youth cannot participate in decisions; lacks ability to sign forms nor understand content. The youth is still under the age of consent at 17 so logically one might assume that the parents should be able to represent their child, but they’re unable to complete the task. Beyond expenses already incurred, worry increases with disclosure that time is running out to achieve legal status. The parents had been on top of procedures, but waited weeks for calls to be returned them from agencies; so the entire process is impeded. This is but a single example of challenges family encounter due to establishments being unclear on its own Policies and Procedures.

    This is problematic in so many areas, but prominently in social-work where caseworkers forego, guidelines to interpret information. Lack of repercussion exists to act as incentive to adhere to Policy. The result is harmful direction at the expense of those most vulnerable. As with those who wrongly inform families that relinquishment of parental authority is required to gain access to financial supports necessary for service delivery. This is the reason I work so strenuously at recommendations to establish clearer Procedural guidelines which are readily identifiable and enforced to avoid misinterpretation.

    Revision of Section 106 of the Alberta Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act (CYFA) resulted in Amendment of Section 2-4 of the Family Support for Children with Disabilities Program (FSCD) “The Family Support for Children with Disabilities Program to have separate legislation from that of child protection services.” Informally known as “SAMANTHA’S LAW.” I feel tremendous grounds evidence need for initiative Canada-wide.

    Ideally, allocating funds directly to families could reduce the strain of daily exceptional circumstances by allowing family to hire trusted employees to provide relief. Staff entrusted to support vulnerable populations are paid minimally for significant duties of care; thus, turn-around is understandably atrocious. Even amongst dedicated, quality support persons, wages are so poor that it becomes necessary to seek alternate employment for personal financial stability. Creating viable remuneration for front-line staff would allow greater flexibility for families in longer-term in terms of choices of available employees. Where routine can be established in-home with trained, compassionate caregivers, demands placed on family have the potential to be reduced significantly. Logically, research demonstrates that it is far more cost-effective and beneficial for families to be served directly than it is to outsource.

    Where no other suitable option beyond out-of-home care is necessary, maintaining parental guardianship continues to be more productive and financially-sound for the System than demanding custody be relinquished to the Province.

    We, as a society, still have far to grow in truly imbedding ourselves in natural appreciation of diversity and that really is a shame – not only for those discriminated against – for the community as a whole. We continue to struggle, neglecting basic human rights and integrity by making demands none too distant from Eugenic platform. Prejudicial intolerance has plagued entire generations and although we speak of shameful acts as if these were long-past, we continue to remain indifferent to the damage that we create by foregoing commitment to reform outlook and practice.


    Velvet Martin,
    Founder of Samantha’s Law
    Spokesperson for Protecting Canadian Children

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