Seniors with Disabilities do not Get Help on UN International Day

Prince Edward Island(PEI) refuses to extend coverage to seniors who need wheelchairs and hearing aids. December 3, 2009 is United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities.Support from the government of PEI is less than people except.

PR Log (Press Release) – Dec 01, 2009 – Thursday is United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities. Canada has signed but not ratified the UN Convention on Disability.

Politicians on PEI, as they do every year on December 3rd, will make statements and issue press releases about their support for people with disabilities. Actual support from the government of PEI is less than people except, especially with reference to seniors.

There are 8,980 seniors living with a disability on PEI according to a joint Federal and Provincial report called Participation and Activity Limitation Survey or PALS 2006.

Seniors with disabilities do not receive coverage under the PEI Disability Support Program which provides assistive devices and other supports for persons living with disabilities.

Assistive devices include aids used by the disabled and include wheelchairs, walkers, scooters, hearing aids, vision aids, and other devices used by them.

Most seniors with disabilities have their needs met through private funds or third-party insurance. However, at least 1,600 seniors with a disability need a wheelchair, walker, hearing aid or other device to help them make it through their day according to PALS 2006.

“The PEI Disability Support Program will not allow anyone who is past their 65th birthday to apply,” said Stephen Pate director of PEI Disability Alert an non-profit advocacy organization.

“Premier Robert Ghiz campaigned on showing respect for people with disabilities but has not extended help to our seniors.”

Doug Currie, the Minister for both Seniors and Persons with Disabilities, sponsored a review of services to Islanders with disabilities. The review’s two reports dismiss the needs of seniors with disabilities for DSP coverage by not discussing the need.

“As a consultant hired to advise the Services Review Committee,” added Pate “it was apparent to me that the review committee had no intention of considering the needs of PEI’s 8,980 seniors with disabilities. The day I was scheduled to report on the topic, the Board ruled me out of order. I resigned as a matter of principal soon after.”

“Social Services and Seniors Disability Services Review – Report on Phase 1” is 78 pages long. The report says this lack of assistance to seniors with disabilities was not an important concern.

“Particular concerns were noted about the drop in supports upon exiting the school system, and the ineligibility of seniors for assistance under the Disability Support Program. (It should be noted that this latter concern was voiced largely by individual presenters and was not raised by the PEI Seniors Federation.)”

“The statement “not raised by the PEI Seniors Federation” is not true,” said Pate. “We were there, heard the Seniors Federation presentation but the Minister wants to paper it over. PEI Disability Alert Inc. made a verbal and written submission on seniors needs immediately after the Federation.”

“After the report was issued, I asked the Minister when he would extend support to seniors with disabilities.”

“My staff is working with the Committee on it,” Minister Doug Currie said in November of 2008.

The final report omitted any references to the needs of seniors for wheelchairs, hearing aids and other assistive devices. “Disability Services Review II: Recommendations of the Disability Services Review Committee”

“It is an enigma how 8,980 Islanders with disabilities disappeared from the face of the map,” said Pate.

When will PEI’s seniors be included in the coverage that is available for all other Islanders under the PEI Disability Support Program?
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PEI Disability Alert Inc. is a not-for-profit organization devoted to public advocacy on behalf of residents of PEI who live with disabilities.
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