How many times have you heard “just give it time”? How many times have you said “change happens slowly”? Well I am just approaching the 61 anniversary of my diagnosis with polio. I contracted it when I was 3 in June of 1953. They treated me for almost two weeks for the flu even though there was a polio epidemic sweeping through Winnipeg but that was then and now is now. Have I seen change in that time, yes. However every time we appear to move forward two steps something happens that drags us back a step so change is much slower than one would hope for. And 61 years is a long time to “just give it time”.
I was a “cute poster child” however I moved on and became an adult member of society with needs. To achieve those needs I had to manage my own change. If I hadn’t I am convinced I would be sitting in some government run facility today, if I were still alive. That was the nice thing to do in the 60’s and 70’s, institutionalize persons with disabilities. Reportedly attitudes were changing driven in a large part by the attitudes of the rebellious baby-boomers. I am not convinced that those changes were anchored very well.
A couple of news stories in the past week have really twisted my turtleneck. These two stories follow two very frustrating weeks for me and are just two example of why I am not sure how well anchored the changes I allude to are. The two weeks of frustration involved job hunting in the Kelowna area. The employment services that had been recommended to me were focused more on how to mitigate my disability rather than focusing on my abilities. My frustration comes about because I was dealing with tax payer funded programs that continue to approach disability and the labour force from a social program perspective. An extension of the poster child approach. I don’t need to mitigate my disability, I’ve done that on my own. I want a service that focuses on my abilities. I have over forty years of work background so a job club, a resume writing service, or a “tailored” job coach is not what I was looking for.
Change may happen slowly but I was training job coaches and running resume services in the 90’s. I was part of that industry where the disabled were not only my peers but also my product. The results of this approach are dismal and the retention rate for employment of persons with disabilities were utter failures. The only people with job security here are the job coaches and resumes writers.
This approach continue due to a fixed attitude within government. It is so much easier to just fund a program rather than demand change in process. Study after study in the last fifteen years has shown the success rate of this social program approach is not worth the investment. Disability management programs around the world have shown much better success when the approach is based on best business practices rather than “social niceties”. To move to this type of model you do need buy in by society and will by politicians. The two stories I will focus on show how this is missing.
The first story was a case involving a veteran with a service dog, David Peavey. The story took place in Dartmouth Nova Scotia. Mr. Peavey, who had served our country for 18 years, suffered from PTSD and had just received a service dog two weeks ago. The condo manager, stating the other residence were quite upset over this, delivered a 15 day eviction notice due to the condo’s no pets policy. Now this type of action is illegal under human rights legislation however Mr. Peavey now has to take the fight to the human rights commission which can be very stressful. Anybody that understands PTSD realizes the last thing a sufferer of that disorder needs is more stress. In my mind this really raises the question as to where has compassion gone in this country. And I don’t make that statement just based on the story. Go to the story and read some of the comments. At least 75% of the comments condemned Mr. Peavey and supported the eviction so my question “where has the compassion gone” is based on those comments. This is only one example of almost 1500 comments which speaks to why there is very little buy in by society.
The second story speaks to political will. That story involves (and I hate to say this because I detest giving these guys more exposure) Doug Ford and his comments regarding a group home for adults with what is reported as developmental disabilities. I have supplied links here to two different stories on the same event. Doug Ford, whose brother as we all know is reportedly in drug rehab, was concerned because he didn’t realize that the residence of this group home would be allowed outside. Mr. Ford these are persons with disabilities attempting to live a life with a bit of dignity, not a group of incarcerated criminals. They have every right to be outside and a bit of understanding would make being outside a much more positive experience for them. I realize you have an issue understanding dignity as your brothers behaviour has repeatedly shown. However your brother Rob has no problem wandering off from his treatment program just to drop off his dry cleaning.
Doug Ford states he is quite upset because this group home has “ruined the neighbourhood” but offers no documentation or substantive information from the community itself. Mr. Ford claims it “was unacceptable to have emergency vehicles parked on the street outside the home” but has nothing to indicate this is actually happening. I have to ask, based on the number of reports about the police attending his brother Rob’s home, if it has ruined that neighbourhood?
To me this speaks volumes regarding “political will”. There is nothing in either presentation of this story to indicate a threat to the community. I have to ask where politicians like Doug Ford would like to put this type of program or would he prefer we just lock up all of those with disabilities. This is not just one step backwards, this is a forty year step backwards.
Just one man’s opinion!