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Advocates for Canadians With Disabilities Say the Federal Government Isn’t Doing Enough to Help People Struggling With New Barriers in the Midst of A Pandemic

Kathleen Harris
CBC News. Sept. 18, 2020

More than six months into the global pandemic, the Liberal government is being accused of failing to meet the needs of the Canadians with disabilities who number among those hardest-hit by the public health crisis.

Marie-Claude Landry, chief commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, said COVID-19 has “expanded the circle of vulnerability” in Canada but people with disabilities still aren’t getting the support they need.

“We urge the government to immediately address the unmet financial needs of people with disabilities in an equitable way,” she said in a media statement.

Opinion: As Employment in Canada Continues to Struggle, It’s Disabled Folks Who Feel It the Worst

K.J. Aiello
Special to The Globe and Mail
Published Sept. 11, 2020

K.J. Aiello is a Toronto-based freelance writer.

Because of my disability, I spent almost two decades trying to find stable, gainful employment. I never found it. Instead, I teetered between employment, underemployment and unemployment. I struggled to pay my bills, sometimes choosing between food, rent or mounting student debt payments.

But here’s the deal: I had little to no ability to cope; my meagre sick days were used up before the end of the first quarter of the year. Oftentimes, I was unable to obtain a doctor’s note or even understand what was wrong with me. I was afraid, and, let’s be honest, I was told more than once that maybe the job just wasn’t for me.

I’ve Been Paralyzed Since I Was 3. Here’s Why Kindness Toward Disabled People Is More Complicated Than You Think

By Rebekah Taussig
TIME, August 31, 2020

I am a magnet for kindness. Like the center of a black hole, my body attracts every good deed from across the universe to the foot of my wheelchair. I move through parking lots and malls, farmers’ markets and airports, bookstores and buffets, and people scramble to my aid.

O.K., so there are plenty of people who don’t seem to notice me, and some people who are actually repelled. They look down, pull their bag or their child closer to them, draw their legs up to their chest as I roll by. (Yeah, it doesn’t feel great.) But it’s the abundance of that gets me all tangled. It’s the fly that won’t stop buzzing, won’t hold still long enough for me to swat it, won’t die.

COVID-19 Taking Financial Toll on Canadians With Disabilities: Survey

The Canadian Press – Aug 27, 2020

More than half of Canadians with disabilities who participated in a crowdsourced survey are struggling to make ends meet because of the financial fallout of the COVID-19 crisis, a new report suggests.

Statistics Canada published findings on Thursday gathered from approximately 13,000 Canadians with long-term conditions or disabilities who voluntarily filled out an online questionnaire between June 3 and July 23.

Unlike most of the agency’s studies, the survey wasn’t randomly sampled and therefore isn’t statistically representative of the Canadian population.

The responses indicate the pandemic has affected the ability of 61 per cent of participants age 15 to 64 to fulfil at least one financial obligation or essential need, including housing payments, basic utilities and prescription medication.

Deaf Citizens Petition

Deaf Citizens are calling for change at the Canadian Hearing Services (formerly the Canadian Hearing Society). The petition is in ASL, LSQ, and English and it lays out some of the issues taking place in the organization.

Concerns by deaf stakeholders and their allies include:

  • Reducing the number of employees who are Deaf
  • Failing to appoint deaf board members in contravention of CHS bylaws
  • Switching its role from a major voice representing deaf people to working mainly as a provider of audiological services
  • Revising its bylaws to eliminate all memberships except for the board meaning that annual general meetings are now close to the community

The Council of Canadians with Disabilities Supports Quebecer, Jonathan Marchand, as he brings his cage in front of the National Assembly in Quebec to obtain his and his friends’ release from long-term care facilities

WINNIPEG The Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD), a national disability rights organization, is expressing its support for 43-year-old Jonathan Marchand as he begins a protest to obtain his and his friends release from long-term care facilities in Quebec.

Marchand, who uses a ventilator, has escaped from his long-term care facility (CHSLD) and is camping out in the public space in front of Quebecs National Assembly. He is requesting an in-person meeting with Premier François Legault in order to discuss his proposal for providing community-based personal care supports for people with disabilities so that they can live dignified and fulfilling lives in the community instead of being warehoused in long-term care facilities.

‘Do our lives count for less?’: COVID-19 exposes cracks in disability aid

Adina Bresge
The Canadian Press, August 6, 2020

Karyn Keith says she isn’t asking for much. All she wants is the same support she’d receive if she was out of a job because of the pandemic, rather than unable to work because of her disabilities.

The 44-year-old mother in Brampton, Ont., said she lives with constant pain and fatigue from multiple chronic conditions, including trigeminal neuralgia, a debilitating nerve disorder characterized by searing spasms through the face.

She was forced to leave her career in supply chain and logistics management in 2013 when her health deteriorated after the birth of her daughter. Since then, she’s received $1,150, plus $250 for her child, every month in federal disability benefits based on her contributions to the Canada Pension Plan.

Delayed COVID-19 Support Another Example of government’s Inequitable Treatment of Disabled Canadians

Hanna Warsame
The Pigeon, Aug. 4, 2020
Editor’s Note: The source interviewed for this piece uses disability-first language to describe herself, and The Pigeon has adapted our language accordingly. We acknowledge that this is not a universal preference.

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) was announced in March 2020 to support Canadians struggling financially due to COVID-19. Since then, 8.46 million Canadians have applied for the benefit, and 86 per cent of Canadians have agreed the CERB is a necessary and useful aid. However, while the federal government has extended COVID-19 support to countless Canadians, those with disabilities were left in the lurch.

Opinion: It’s Time to Unify the Disability Movement

Al Etmanski and Kathleen O’Grady
Globe and Mail, August 4, 2020

A decision to issue one time, $600 federal payments to Canadians with disabilities, in order to cover the extraordinary expenses they have incurred because of COVID-19, has finally received royal assent. But it’s too little, too late, and reaches too few.

The $600 amount is nowhere near the extra monthly costs many people with disabilities have incurred during the pandemic. It was issued four months after most other Canadians have received support and well after the country has emerged from lockdown. And it leaves around 60 per cent of Canadians with disabilities behind. Payments will also not be issued until the fall.

15 Moments Within the Fight for Disability Rights

By Julia Carmel
New York Times, July 26, 2020

The disability civil rights movement has many distinct narratives, but the prevailing themes are of community, justice and equity.

As with every other civil rights movement, the fight for disability rights is one that challenges negative attitudes and pushes back against oppression. But it is also more complex.

Often the movement has diverged into a constellation of single-issue groups that raise awareness of specific disabilities. It has also converged into cross-disability coalitions that increasingly include intersections of race, gender and sexual orientation.

Regardless, the prevailing demands of the movement are the same: justice, equal opportunities and reasonable accommodations.

COVID-19 Causing Long Delays for Guide Dogs, Charity Says

Manotick organization says blind clients waiting months to get their service animals CBC News
Posted: Jul 20, 2020

Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind, a charity based in the south Ottawa community of Manotick, says its clients have been waiting months for service animals as COVID-19 has made it difficult to do their normal work.

When the COVID-19 pandemic forced people inside their homes in mid-March, the loss of freedom was felt particularly hard by blind and partly blind Canadians waiting for guide dogs.

“Clients have been waiting quite a while,” said Steven Doucette, who works with Manotick-based charity Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind.

Minister Qualtrough Announces New Details on Proposed Financial Support for Persons With Disabilities(PWDs) During COVID-19

News provided by
Employment and Social Development Canada

GATINEAU, QC, July 17, 2020 /CNW/ – The Government of Canada continues to take immediate, significant and decisive action to ensure that the needs of all Canadians are supported during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last month, the Government announced a series of measures to help Canadians with disabilities navigate the effects of the outbreak, including a one-time, tax-free, non-reportable payment of $600 to assist with additional expenses incurred during the pandemic.

These additional expenses might include higher costs for personal protective equipment; additional expenses related to hiring personal support workers and accessing other disability supports; paying for increased costs for medical supplies and medication; higher internet costs associated with physical distancing; and increased use of taxis and home delivery services to obtain groceries and prescriptions.

ViewPoints: Brandt-CNIB Regina Development Scandal

Ordinary citizens protested the secretive Brandt-CNIB development that would have developed commercial real estate on a provincially owned park in Regina. They are willing to fight it in court.

Regina City Council repeatedly protested the Brandt-CNIB development and it passed two motions against it calling for more transparency.

The Saskatchewan Provincial Capital Commission’s Board passed a unanimous decision to audit the Brandt-CNIB development. The report raises even more questions about this secretive deal that would allow CNIB to live in prime office space rent-free.

CNIB still refuses to name the commercial tenants that want to rent space in the Brandt-CNIB development.

City’s Amphibious Wheelchairs Put the Beach Within Reach

Specially designed chairs can traverse soft sand, go into the water CBC News, July 13, 2020

All her life, whenever Delaney Dunlop’s friends asked her to go to the beach, she’d decline.

The 30-year-old’s battery-powered wheelchair just wasn’t built to traverse the sand.

“It took like six people to get it out of the sand,” Dunlop said of one earlier attempt.

And what was she supposed to do once she reached the water?

“Getting in and out of the water isn’t always safe for people who need assistance,” Dunlop told CBC Radio’s Ottawa Morning.

Fundraising: Peterborough Kiwanis Donates Trail Chairs to Camp Kawartha

By Caroline McConnell, Special to the Examiner
Mon., June 29, 2020

The hiking trails at Camp Kawartha, both at the main site on Clear Lake and others behind the Environment Centre in Peterborough, just became more accessible thanks to a generous donation of two specialized trail chairs by The Kiwanis Club of Peterborough and Motion Peterborough.

“We are absolutely delighted to add these chairs to our accessibility equipment,” said Jacob Rodenburg, Camp Kawartha’s executive director, in a release last week. “These chairs are much more robust than the average wheelchair, and this means any camper or student can join with their peers and friends in an exciting hike through the woods.”

A Disability Lens in the Time of COVID-19

Marcia Carroll
The Guardian, June 10, 2020

The Government of Canada recently marked May 31 to June 6 as National AcessAbility Week. Any other year, it would also be a time to recognize the efforts of individuals, communities and workplaces that are actively working to remove barriers to accessibility and inclusion.

However, during the COVID-19 pandemic we have seen the disability rights movement regress and the rights and needs of Canadians living with disabilities have been, for the most part, left out of the conversations and response. Identified below are four core areas in which people living with disabilities have affected by the lack of the use a disability lens when responding to a public health emergency.

When Will Disabled Lives Also Matter?

By John Rae
Editor’s Note: John Rae is a long-time disability rights advocate, who lives in Toronto.

The 2015 Truth and Reconciliation Commission spotlighted centuries of genocide and assimilation that is the legacy of indigenous peoples in Canada and elsewhere. It included 94 calls to action for change in Canada, but change has been very slow in coming. The Report was followed up by the report Of the two and a half year National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls whose final Report found “state actions and inactions rooted in colonialism and colonial ideologies” were a key driving force in the disappearance of thousands of Indigenous women. It offered more recommendations for improving the situation of indigenous women and girls in Canada. Recent shooting deaths of Rodney Levi, and Chantel Moore have put a clear focus on recent police encounters with Indigenous communities, and many indigenous peoples are asking do indigenous lives yet matter?

B.C. Advocate Says Proposed Federal COVID-19 Benefit For Canadians With Disabilities Leaves Many with Nothing

One-time $600 payment would only be paid to people who claim the federal disability tax credit CBC News · Posted: Jun 16, 2020

The federal government is considering a one-time emergency benefit for people with disabilities to help them cope with the added costs imposed by the pandemic, but a B.C.-based disability advocate says even if the legislation does pass, it won’t go far enough.

Heather Walkus, first vice chair of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities, says the legislation only applies to people who currently receive a disability tax credit, which she says is only about 40 per cent of Canadians living with disability.

Council of Canadians with Disabilities Response to COVID-19 Funding Falling Through Cracks

For Immediate Release | June 11, 2020

June 10, 2020 marked a disappointing day for Canadians with disabilities. Finally, government put forward financial relief for Canadians with disabilities only to have the bill fail on the floor. Once again, Canadians with disabilities have been further marginalized in receiving necessary COVID-19 financial relief support.

When attempting to separate the bill to ensure some Canadians, at least those with the disability tax credit certificate, would receive immediate support, the opposition opposed and blocked any discussion, using this moment to push for the entire house to be called back before further discussion. The result is that Canadians with disabilities have fallen through the cracks, once again.

Masks a Concern for Hearing-Impaired Travellers

Globe and Mail, June 3, 2020

Even now, three months into COVID-19, the picture shocks. Five uniformed airport employees wear black helmets with dark visors that shield their eyes and blue medical masks covering their mouths.

Their faces are completely hidden. The photo is from Qatar’s Hamad International Airport, where staff now wear helmets with infrared thermal imaging to take people’s temperatures without making contact.

If security around travel used to be merely annoying, it’s become almost frightening.