Ill ferry pas­sen­gers need to be treated with care

Northern Pen - - EDITORIAL -

Most peo­ple are aware of the in­ter­rup­tion of ferry ser­vices to Bell Is­land caused by those who have re­fused to va­cate their ve­hi­cles dur­ing the cross­ing.

We all rec­og­nize that safety for the pas­sen­gers and crew is a “top pri­or­ity.” How­ever, the prob­lem is not one of ac­ces­si­bil­ity, since the new ferry is a state-of-the-art ves­sel with ap­pro­pri­ate el­e­va­tors and stairs, and a crew that is very at­ten­tive to peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties. Con­flict arises when the crew has no dis­cre­tion in or­der­ing peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties to go to the pas­sen­ger lounge, re­gard­less of their con­di­tion. Pa­tients re­turn­ing to the is­land after un­der­go­ing chemo­ther­apy, suf­fer­ing from nau­sea — who must avoid con­tact with peo­ple be­cause of a com­pro­mised im­mune sys­tem — are ordered to the lounge full of peo­ple. Oth­ers travel with oxy­gen tanks or suf­fer from Parkin­son’s or seizures, all in the pub­lic eye. Doc­tors’ notes are ig­nored.

Hu­man dig­nity is a hu­man right. There is no dig­nity when there is no re­spect for per­sonal space or phys­i­cal and emo­tional pri­vacy when re­turn­ing pa­tients can­not make choices for them­selves and, as a re­sult, are made to feel ne­glected or ig­nored.

Those with dis­abil­i­ties need con­sid­er­a­tion as in­di­vid­u­als who de­sire the max­i­mum level of in­de­pen­dence and con­trol over their own lives. The Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion and Works must re­al­ize that when peo­ple are at their most vul­ner­a­ble is when they need the most sup­port. Va­cat­ing their ve­hi­cles un­der­mines their self-re­spect, in­creases their anx­i­ety and fills them with fear­ful an­tic­i­pa­tion of their next hospi­tal pro­ce­dure in the city. The depart­ment must be held ac­count­able, not only for its ac­tions but for its fail­ure to act.

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