Peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties de­serve a ‘hand up’

The Compass - - OPINION -

Ed­i­tor’s Note: The fol­low­ing let­ter was sent to the lead­ers of all three provin­cial po­lit­i­cal par­ties, MHAs and fed­eral MPs rep­re­sent­ing New­found­land and Labrador, Poverty Re­duc­tion Strat­egy-NL and Dis­abil­ity Pol­icy Of­fice-NL.

I am Ed­ward Saw­don and I have been liv­ing in New­found­land and Labrador for 14 years. I am a men­tal health con­sumer, an os­to­m­ate, and a per­son with many phys­i­cal health chal­lenges and, in the past, I lived in poverty. I have been in­volved in poverty ad­vo­cacy for many years and most re­cently was awarded the Gov­er­nor Gen­eral’s Car­ing Cana­dian award. Last year I re­ceived the CMHA Na­tional Con­sumer In­volve­ment award.

Two groups es­pe­cially im­pacted by poverty in the prov­ince are peo­ple liv­ing with phys­i­cal dis­abil­i­ties and per­sons with se­ri­ous men­tal health is­sues. Th­ese groups are some of the prov­ince’s most vul­ner­a­ble and if a provin­cial bud­get is not de­signed to take care of the most vul­ner­a­ble, who is it de­signed to take care of? An easy way to help would be to stop the cur­rent prac­tice of peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties hav­ing to ap­ply to many dif­fer­ent de­part­ments to at­tain ser­vices. What peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties re­ally want is a ‘hand up.’

Five spe­cific ways that could dras­ti­cally de­crease poverty in New­found­land and Labrador would be to in­crease In­come Support Rates and to in­dex those rates to in­fla­tion; ex­tend Os­tomy Sup­plies Cov­er­age for those os­to­m­ates who are on the New­found­land and Labrador Pre­scrip­tion Drug Pro­gram’s ac­cess and as­sur­ance plans; and to pro­vide more af­ford­able hous­ing. The provin­cial gov­ern­ment should also push the fed­eral gov­ern­ment on a pol­icy like Guar­an­teed An­nual In­come to en­sure that ev­ery Cana­dian can live in dig­nity as well as support for a na­tional phar­ma­care pro­gram.

Two groups es­pe­cially im­pacted by poverty in the prov­ince are peo­ple liv­ing with phys­i­cal dis­abil­i­ties and per­sons with se­ri­ous men­tal health is­sues.

— Ed­ward Saw­don writes from St. John’s

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