There Was a Time…

There was a time when the disabled simply weren’t heard from or seen.  That time was over fifty years ago and I would like to think those days are long gone.  I have spend most of my life fighting for equality and the protection of rights however the erosion I have witnessed of late is to the disability rights movement what climate deniers are to the environmental movement.

This most recent incident with TransLink is a prime example of what can happen when those most effected are not consulted with.  Now we have Minister Fassbender in what appears to be an effort to collect a few political points by reversing a TransLink decision.  I would like to ask the Minister where his concerns were when this was being planned.  This is nothing more than a government Minister attempting to take the sting out of the insult of the $77/month increase in disability benefits and then turning around to claw back $55/month for a transportation pass.

Hardly an increase when you lose most of the increase through new costs.  To add insult to injury many people will be worse off if they live in a social housing program.  In social housing you pay 30% of your income on rent but with that $77/month increase your rent subsidy will decrease by $23 per month.  This is what happens when you don’t consult and you have limited knowledge of the issue.  This is a government that seems to have no moral issues with a Premier blowing over a half million on private jets while taking away income from those most marginalized.

CKNW’s Drex Live did a great rant on this “misstep” by TransLink.  His rant is really just common sense being expressed.  When an organization using the level of tax dollars that is being pumped into TransLink can’t be bothered to consult with those they serve what message does that send.  If TransLink’s concept of providing “proper” services for me is a lower priority than actually providing the service stop pumping my tax dollars into, what appears to be, a non-universal public service.  TransLink doesn’t even know what questions to ask let alone develop solutions to address the problems.

And this lack of consultation is slowly becoming prevalent with every level of government.  I deal with this everyday in Nanaimo.  I spoke at the Feb 22 City Council meeting regarding the lack of disability representation on any of their advisory committees.  As far as I have been able to ascertain there are no representatives of any type of disability on any City of Nanaimo citizens committee.

How can the City plan effectively when they are not consulting or seeking feedback from those who are most effected?  Based on the meetings I have had with the City they don’t realize that they have to police standards, not just sign off a development permit because it represents potential business taxes for the City.  Developers don’t understand the building code when it comes to access so why isn’t the City explaining these things in the permit process.  What are the City planners doing and where are they getting their advice?

Welcome to retirement
Welcome to retirement

They are obviously not receiving any direction from user groups as none are members of any City advisory committees.  I’ve heard too many people say “I wouldn’t have thought of that” when I identify an issue.  Well that’s why you have all of the stakeholders at the advisory table.

I don’t know about you however I believe every time we “accept” lack of representation on the advisory level we are giving up our rights.  They may be little battles a lot of the times but it is all of those little ones that make or break a cause.  The right to #access is something I thought had been settled twenty-five years ago but apparently I’m wrong.

Pay attention, get involved and make your politicians on all levels aware you are watching.  Even something as simple as a City list of accessible apartments, and I’m not talking social housing here, but real accommodations anyone retiring with a disability would like to find.  If you don’t you will wind up there to find out that there are no programs left for you.

These are needless human rights challenges just waiting to happen.  By failing to bring persons with disabilities into consultative roles of City committees my Charter Rights under Fundamental Rights, Legal Rights and Equality Rights are effectively nullified.  If I let that just slip then I am part of the problem and not a contributor to a solution.  I just don’t understand why a threat of a Charter challenge has to be used to get results on things that were supposedly settled years ago!

I don’t ever have to look into another persons eyes and say “There was a time”…




5 thoughts on “There Was a Time…

    1. I’m seeing that in Canada, hearing about it in New Zealand, Britain, the US, (haven’t heard much about Australia). And I fear it will only exasperate as the aging boomers who grew up with a disability are hitting an age group we never use to make, retirement. And when you look at the level of ideological polarization world wide, it is scary!

      1. I’m eight years disabled from physical trauma – nerve and soft tissue damage, inflammation and migraines – and since two years the way the government has been treating me is appalling. They’re rude to me on the phone and in assessments, and I’m having to prove myself time and time again that I’m not a liar (what the doctors say isn’t enough apparently). I truly hate this government. Yes the aging population is already a problem, puts pressures on resources.

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