Montreal Gazette

Disabled people deserve respect


Re: “Quebecers with disabiliti­es fight pension penalties” (Montreal Gazette, Feb. 22)

I was saddened but not surprised by this article, as I have been subject to these penalties since I turned 65.

My disability began much earlier. At 17, I started experienci­ng a loss of balance and pain throughout my body. Thus began an endless round of doctors to get a proper diagnosis. Some 28 years later — age 45 — multiple sclerosis was diagnosed.

I had been a lecturer at Mcgill, but could no longer teach. Unlike the able-bodied who have the option of receiving their pension as of age 60, people with disabiliti­es have no such choice. At 60, the pension kicks in and at 65, so does the penalty.

This has far-reaching consequenc­es. Since turning 65, I have been unable to visit the dentist, get new glasses or go to a physiother­apist. I now pay 75 per cent of my income in rent, leaving precious little for medication and other necessitie­s required to combat the ravages of MS.

Last summer, the penalty was found to have violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, but the Coalition Avenir Québec government appealed the decision, leaving disabled pensioners in limbo.

Though this punitive law was implemente­d by the previous government, the CAQ is digging in, while ready to shell out $870 million more for that albatross that is the Olympic Stadium roof.

Disabled people deserve respect. It is high time that our government show some compassion for those among us who are the most vulnerable.

Michelle Drolet, Pointe-claire

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