By Ebyan AbdigirStaff Reporter
Tues., July 5, 2016
Advocates, experts say the change to eliminate free admission to people with disabilities will be seen in a negative light.
Mobility advocate Luke Anderson, seen here in 2014, described the CNE’s new policy of eliminating free admission for disabled people as unfortunate, and worries that the Ex will not allow disabled people a fair opportunity to participate.
Advocates are blasting a CNE decision to eliminate free admission for people with disabilities.
The CNE is ending the long-standing policy of providing free admission, saying the change will respect the dignity and independence of all of our guests, including those with disabilities.
Attendants of people with disabilities will still get free admission.
Mobility advocate Luke Anderson described the new policy as unfortunate, and worries that the Ex will not allow disabled people a fair opportunity to participate.
There is a high percentage of people with disabilities that are unemployed with very few resources. Whatever systems or support we can provide is a good thing, said Anderson, founder of StopGap, which provides ramps for buildings and stores which otherwise wouldnt be accessible.
Theres also a lot of issues with our society in general that stops people with disabilities from being fully engaged in their communities.
The CNE handed out flyers to fair-goers last year, warning them that the admission policy would be changing in time for this years fair, which runs from Aug. 19 to Sept. 5.
CNE GM Virginia Ludy defended the policy, saying the fair is only doing what other major attractions in the Greater Toronto Area have already done.
The CNEs change in policy is one of conforming with the policies in place at other major entertainment venues. It is also about respect, treating persons with disabilities with dignity, independence, equality of access and inclusion, said Ludy, adding that the decision was made two years ago by the Canadian National Exhibition Association board of directors.
The Toronto Zoo provides a 50 per cent discount for people with disabilities.
At the ROM, people with disabilities have to pay full admission, but their attendant gets in free.
Ludy also said fair visitors received plenty of notice of the policy change.
The change was rolled out last year during the 2015 CNE with flyers and on our website, and more recently with sponsored content to ensure our visitors stay well informed, Ludy said.
Whatever led to the decision, however, it could still be a black eye for the CNEs image, according to Alan Middleton, a professor of marketing at York Universitys Schulich School of Business.
The CNEs new policy may be acceptable from an economic and policy standpoint, he said, many will view the companys back-step in a negative light.
In the public eye, it is a negative, Middleton said.