Montreal Advocates Call for Better Accessibility

By Phil Carpenter , Global News
Posted July 16, 2021

Marie Pontini is a competitive bodybuilder who likes to keep active.

But she’s frustrated that she cannot always get to where she wants to. There isn’t always access for her wheelchair, which she uses because she has multiple sclerosis.

“New buildings, they have to be accessible,” she told Global News, “but there’s no guidelines that tell them how to make it accessible.”

Pontini pointed out that the problem of accessibility for people with reduced mobility in the city is nothing new and that for years they’ve been demanding improved access. According to her, more businesses and building owners could easily make the accommodations more effective by consulting experts – the people who need to services.

“But they don’t have the obligation to do it,” she noted. “They don’t have to have a checkup to make sure that yes, it’s accessible.”

As a result, she added, people must often dish out their own cash to fix problems. Just a day ago at her new apartment, she had to install shower support bars herself, she claimed.

Even hospitals, she believes, can do better.

“The ‘MUHC] Glen is the least accessible place, she laughed. “If you go for a surgery they have no protocol in place for what to do with your wheelchair, so most of people who get hospitalized have their wheelchair stolen, or lost.

The bodybuilder claimed that her wheelchair went missing for three days when she once went for surgery.

Linda Gauthier, president of Regroupement des activistes pour l’inclusion n Québec(RAPLIQ), believes the law in the province needs more teeth.

“There’s no obligation of accessibility,” she noted, “but there’s only an obligation of accommodation.”

One consequence, she explained, is that if someone living in an apartment loses mobility, their options are suddenly limited.

“That’s why there are so many strong people who are forced to move into a ‘seniors’ home].”

She, Pontini and others plan to keep pushing, hoping that eventually there’ll be the political will to make changes.

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