Posts Tagged "disabilities"


B.C. rejects calls for individualized air quality supports for people with disabilities and those at risk from wildfire smoke

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Though there is widespread consensus that wildfire smoke has become an annual health issue for thousands of high-risk British Columbians, the provincial government is rejecting calls for individualized air quality measures and defending its one-size-fits-all approach.

CTV News Vancouver has spoken with several people with disabilities and the BC Lung Association, who all agree that the long-term issue of poor air quality during annual wildfire smoke should prompt the province to consider air purifiers an essential health device for those with relevant health conditions.

“I would not be surprised to see more people with underlying conditions going to emergency rooms,” said Dr. Menn Biagtan of the BC Lung Association, noting that the thousands of British Columbians who’ve had COVID-19 are now included in that category.

“I think one of the lessons we’re going to learn from this wildfire season is that air purifiers (should be) available for those who really need it or cannot afford it. I would be in agreement with that, and that should be included in the plan.” 

Disability researcher and policy analyst Gabrielle Peters raised the issue with the province last year, penning a letter to several ministries and urging them to consider an extension to the BC Medical program.

“Disabled people are disproportionately likely to live below the poverty line and already facing extraordinary costs because of COVID-19,” she wrote last fall. “It is simply not possible to purchase air purifiers at this income level.” 

The Ministry of Health rejected the idea of providing air purifiers to individuals in its response to Peters, saying it was too complex and expensive to do so and that the government was focussed on community centres and shopping malls as centres where anyone could find relief during periods of poor air quality. The ministry reiterated this position when CTV News asked about the issue on Wednesday.

“Due to these unique individual considerations when purchasing a portable air purifier, the provincial government does not provide portable air purifiers to the public,” wrote ministry staffer, who said no interviews were possible on the issue.

“BC Housing has an Extreme Heat and Wildfire Smoke Response Protocol for social housing buildings managed by BC Housing, including the creation of cooling rooms, regular checks on tenants and providing tenants with information about how to stay cool and protect themselves from smoke.”


While the smoke from wildfires may be an unpleasant annoyance for many people, for others, the weeks of fine particulate matter in the air can have serious health consequences. 

“I get migraines and respiratory distress that triggers heart problems for me,” said Q, a disabled person in Chilliwack with a connective tissue disorder and COPD, among other complex health issues, which are aggravated by wildfire smoke.

“I am likely to faint if I do go outside; I have been hospitalized with wildfire smoke exposure.” 

For those living in the Okanagan, the impacts have been even more intense and long-running.

“I know so many disabled people who, like me, are reluctant to seek medical care unless it’s a crisis since we spend so much time and energy navigating the system,” wrote Kelowna resident Shaunna Muckersie, who has permanent lung damage after mistaking a serious cough in 2018 as wildfire-smoke-related, when she actually had a lung abscess and double pneumonia.

“I am very lucky in my living situation in that I have been able to acquire an air purifier to run in my bedroom,” added Muckersie. “I genuinely don’t know what I would do otherwise. The mall and library are not safe for me now because of COVID, and as my disability has gradually worsened, I have had difficulty driving at times.”


The BC Lung Association includes wildfire smoke prominently in its “State of the Air” report, urging British Columbians to start preparing for issues before the smoke sets in.

“Exposure to wildfire smoke is associated with a range of acute effects, particularly for those with respiratory diseases,” note the report’s authors. “Evidence of longer-term health effects is also starting to emerge.”

Biagtan reiterated the advice to stock up on medications, have a “clean air room” in each home and make sure that anyone investing in an air purifier gets the right size for the space they want to use it in. She also advocated using the DIY option the B.C. Centre for Disease Control is recommending for those in a budget. It costs just $60 in materials. 

“lf you’re planning to go out, look up the Air Quality Health Index,” she added. “If it’s high, stay indoors and seek clean air shelters. If your symptoms are worsening, consult your doctor or go to the emergency room.”


Peters would like to see wheelchair-accessible hotel rooms reserved for Interior Health residents to be able to escape the intense smoke near their homes, pointing out that unless the flames from a wildfire threaten someone’s home, they can be living in a fire zone for weeks with horrendous air quality and little escape if they don’t have the money or social connections to stay elsewhere.

She added that without access to air purifiers, high-risk people with compromised immune systems, cardiac conditions, various lung issues and physical disabilities can take up critical acute care resources.

“Research has shown emergency room visits and hospitalizations go up when there is wildfire smoke in the air,” wrote Peters. “We also know that (fine particulate matter) can cause both immediate acute symptoms and long term health effects.”

And while the argument that supplying air purifiers is more economical than a hospital stay doesn’t appear to be part of the government’s calculus, Q doesn’t think the government is taking into account the people who feel invisible in their health struggles, which are amplified each summer.

“The government has to rethink messaging and how we’re involved with these decisions,” Q said. “We really do get left on the sidelines. The greatest effects (from wildfire smoke) are against the people who are not cared for and not remembered by most of society.” 


Why Vancouver’s common ‘no-pets’ clause presents particular challenges for tenants with disabilities | CBC News

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Megan Milton was going to couchsurf with a friend for a month, but a month turned into four because no one would rent to an unemployed woman with a dog. 

In February 2020, Milton had a well-paying office job and rented an apartment in Vancouver. Then within a week, she lost her job and received an eviction notice. After the COVID-19 pandemic struck in March, Milton found it increasingly hard to find a new job or a dog-friendly apartment within her budget.

Milton, who is visually impaired, faced a hard choice: give up her dog who provides her with emotional support, or move into her friend’s dining room until her financial situation improved. She chose couchsurfing.

“By the technical definition, I was homeless. And that happened mostly because I wasn’t able to find housing with the dog,” said Milton. 

Milton is just one of many Vancouverites with a disability who struggle to find housing, especially when they have a pet. Because her pug is not a certified service dog, Milton cannot take advantage of the exemptions stated in B.C.’s Residential Tenancy Act for disabled people with service animals.

For Milton, giving up her pug, which is named Dog, was never an option. She says he helps her get out of the house when he needs to go on a walk and has kept her company through the social isolation of the pandemic. She describes him as her “best bud.”

“He’s there for all the struggles, when my Doordash order is 45 minutes late, or, you know, literally being homeless. He is there to be a shoulder to cry on,” she said.

Milton has since found a job and now lives in a pet-friendly shared house — but the possibility of another eviction now hangs over her head. She says her landlord will likely put the house up for sale in the spring and she will have to look for housing again. It would be her third no-fault eviction in as many years.

No-pets clauses

Finding a rental home without a no-pets clause has long been a challenge for tenants in Vancouver.

According to the B.C. SPCA, 25 per cent of dogs and cats they receive are surrendered because their owners can’t find pet-friendly housing. This amounts to 1,150 pets that end up at a shelter every year. 

In a 2018 report, advocacy organization Pets OK B.C. stated that even though more pet-friendly housing is being built, much of this housing stock remains inaccessible to middle-class renters.

Milton says giving up Dog, who kept her company during social isolation and helps her get out of the house, was never an option for her despite the hardships she has faced trying to find housing for them both. (Veronika Khvorostukhina )

The situation is particularly challenging for people with disabilities because of the legal grey area between the province’s Residential Tenancy Act and Human Rights Code when it comes to tenants who have pets that aren’t certified as service animals, according to lawyer Robert Patterson.

“Under the Residential Tenancy Act, a landlord is allowed to restrict pets,” said Patterson, a legal advocate at the Tenant Resource and Advisory Centre. 

But, he added, the B.C. Human Rights Code states that landlords also have a duty to accommodate disabled tenants who rely on their pet in connection to their disability — whether the animal is certified or not. 

Patterson says that the two pieces of legislation don’t give a clear answer to situations in which a tenant is advised by a medical professional to get an emotional support animal, but their landlord doesn’t allow pets.

“I think there’s a good argument that a landlord should respect the human rights of the tenant and permit them to have a pet,” he said.

Human rights perspective

B.C. Human Rights Clinic director Laura Track says in some cases, no-pets clauses can be a potential violation of disabled people’s right to equal housing.

Track says expanding certification to different animals is not the answer.

“I don’t think certification is helpful,” she said. “And, in fact, I think it confuses the issue even more, because landlords and other service providers, even stores and restaurants, think they only have to accommodate a certified animal. And that’s just not true.”

The solution, according to Track, is for landlords to work with disabled tenants on an individual basis to make sure their right to equal housing is respected. She says stratas and landlords often don’t understand their duty to accommodate a disabled tenant.

“And so they think, well, we have a policy that says ‘no pets’ that applies to everyone and no exceptions. And they don’t understand that they have to make exceptions, sometimes in order to accommodate people with disabilities,” Track said.

In October 2020, Vancouver city council passed a motion to ban no-pets clauses in rental housing contracts. Now the province has to decide whether to amend the Residential Tenancy Act accordingly. 

But Milton is not optimistic that a change in the law would protect tenants who have pets. 

“There is inherently a power imbalance between renters and landlords and we’re never going to be protected,” she said.

8:12Dog owners wish more landlords would toss them a bone on rentals

Laura Track and Robert Patterson speak with Stephen Quinn about why they believe landlords should be more accommodating to dog owners. 8:12


Families’ ‘worst fear’ realized in investigation into Victoria charity for adults with disabilities | CBC News

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Reading about what was uncovered during an investigation into the care provided to developmentally disabled adults by two nurses at Victoria’s Garth Homer Society has been a troubling experience for Jennifer Baumbusch.

Baumbusch is an associate professor of nursing at the University of B.C. whose research focus is long-term residential care, but she’s also the mother of an 18-year-old who has complex medical needs and intellectual and developmental disabilities.

“Our worst fear is that our children will be in the care of an organization and that we will be systematically excluded from their care, and then the outcome could potentially be death,” she told CBC News.

“It’s what keeps us awake at night.”

Late last month, the B.C. College of Nurses and Midwives issued a public notice announcing the conclusion of a three-year investigation into nurses Victoria Weber and Euphemie (Phemie) Guttin, both high-level employees of the Garth Homer Society (GHS).

The college says the investigation uncovered “serious concerns,” including that Weber and Guttin restricted their clients’ access to medication and medical professionals, and “effectively obstructed” parents from interacting with their adult children, labelling family members who advocated for their loved ones as difficult or even dangerous.

One mother who complained to the college, Margaret Lavery, has also filed a lawsuit claiming that Weber, Guttin and GHS “caused or contributed” to her 21-year-old daughter’s death, allegedly ignoring symptoms of a bowel obstruction for months.

For Baumbusch and other advocates, these revelations touch on some of their most pressing concerns about how people with developmental disabilities and their families are treated, as well as oversight of the systems that support them and a lack of options for care.

“For families who are working with any agency or organization, the fear and concern that you have is that when you advocate … that you are labelled and then shut out of that individual’s care,” she said.

“It’s especially frightening when you’re not able then to say, ‘OK, well, I would like that individual to live with me,’ because the system is unwilling and unprepared to give you the resources to do that.”

According to the college’s public notices, Weber and Guttin do not agree with all of the findings from the investigation, but they have agreed to the suspension of their nurses’ licences. GHS has also denied responsibility on behalf of the two nurses in Katrina Lavery’s death.

Former employee complained over treatment of families

The college’s investigation was prompted by complaints from three parents and a former GHS employee. All three parents — Margaret Lavery, Cyndie Bourke and Edith Artner — have told CBC they were appalled to learn that Weber and Guttin have kept their jobs as senior managers at GHS.

The society has said Weber and Guttin are “integral members of the Garth Homer team.” 

The former employee, whom CBC has agreed not to name, said her complaint was prompted by how Weber and Guttin treated certain parents.

A nurse herself, the former employee worked in the home where Bourke’s daughter Taryn was living, and said she saw how Bourke was painted as aggressive when she tried to raise concerns about her daughter’s care.

That didn’t sit right.

“Every parent is controlling when they have a child with a disability because that parent has dealt with that child for many, many years and has always been responsible for their care,” she said.

Cyndie Bourke was only allowed supervised visits with her daughter when Taryn, 32, was living in a home operated by the Garth Homer Society. (Submitted by Cyndie Bourke)

The former employee shared an email that Weber sent her in February 2018, outlining how she was expected to respond if Bourke visited and wanted to see Taryn.

In the email, Weber instructs the former employee to make it clear that Bourke will not be allowed unsupervised visits with her daughter and says that if Bourke refuses to leave the property when asked, the care workers should call 911.

“That was the last straw for me,” the former employee said, explaining that she called the college not long after that.

‘An ableist approach to our system’

According to Karla Verschoor, the executive director of Inclusion B.C., this kind of situation is not unique to Garth Homer Society.

“Negatively characterizing people and their families as difficult is a strategy used against many marginalized people to maintain control in complex situations,” she said.

“I think it’s very characteristic of an ableist approach to our system. And then I do think at other times it is consciously being done, and it probably stems from an arrogance that professionals know what’s best for the families.”

Ableism is discrimination against people with disabilities.

Both Verschoor and Baumbusch said what they’ve learned about the situation at GHS makes them concerned about oversight of facilities for adults with developmental disabilities.

“I think we’ve seen a failure in our existing safeguards system, and I’d be curious to know how it’s going to be addressed by the organizations involved,” Baumbusch said.

Katrina Lavery died of a bowel obstruction on Jan. 1, 2018. (Margaret Lavery)

Community Living B.C. (CLBC), the Crown agency that provides support for adults with developmental disabilities, cancelled its residential contract with GHS in May 2018 following Katrina Lavery’s death and arranged an emergency overnight takeover of five homes by a new non-profit provider.

A CLBC spokesperson said in an email that the agency takes the safety and well-being of its clients “very seriously,” and has safeguards including qualification requirements for service providers, standards for health and quality of life and regular monitoring.

In a written statement, Nicholas Simons, the minister responsible for CLBC, said he’s confident in the services it provides.

As her daughter enters adulthood, Baumbusch said she’d also like to see more funding and a greater variety of options to provide care and housing for adults with developmental disabilities.

“If an individual says, ‘I want to stay living here with these people in my family,’ or ‘I want to go live in an apartment with my friends,’ they ought to be able to do that,” Baumbusch said.


Girl with disabilities forced from Playland over mask policy | CBC News

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What was meant to be a fun day at Playland for Bobbie Dube and her seven-year-old daughter, Mikayla, turned out to be a big disappointment when the pair was forced to leave the park because Mikayla can’t wear a mask. 

Mikayla is non-verbal, has autism, and her mother says she needs to use a wheelchair.

Dube, who lives in Burnaby, B.C., had called ahead to book tickets and says when she asked about Playland’s mask mandate, she was told her daughter would not have to wear a mask given her disabilities. 

But after one ride, where the ride operator allowed Mikayla on without a mask, Dube says an attendant at the Vancouver amusement park told them they would be barred from any more rides.

“They proceeded to tell us that no one in the park would allow us to go on any rides because my daughter, who is seven, has special needs and can’t wear a mask,” said Dube. 

The pair’s experience highlights how challenging it can be for people with disabilities to get out and enjoy the simple pleasures in life that those without disabilities enjoy regularly, without planning ahead or worrying about accessibility. 

‘Happens all the time’

Heather McCain, the executive director of Creating Accessible Neighbourhoods (​CAN), says phoning ahead does not always ensure a hassle-free trip. 

“It’s exhausting to have to try to do homework before every trip. And even when you phone a business, such as in this case, you are not given the appropriate information,” McCain said. “And this happens all the time.”

Heather McCain is executive director of the non-profit group Creating Accessible Neighbourhoods. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

In addition to the miscommunication about Mikayla’s need to wear a mask, Dube discovered when they arrived at Playland on Sunday that the park’s ride accessibility program had been suspended due to COVID-19 protocols. The program allowed people who use wheelchairs to access rides using the exit so they didn’t have to wait in line and so they could store their wheelchair. 

But when Mikayla and her mom arrived at the kids’ roller coaster, Dube’s friend had to carry her. 

McCain says when businesses make changes such as those made at Playland, the onus is often placed on people with disabilities to find the flaws in those changes and fight them. 

“Unfortunately, the only way disabled people have power against businesses is to have a human rights complaint,” McCain said. “But that process is expensive, takes several years and is not accessible to many disabled people.”

Dube says she asked the ride attendants to explain why Mikayla was being asked to wear a mask when rules on Playland’s website say exceptions are made for infants or those with medical needs.

She said she was told there is “absolutely no exception.”

Laura Ballance, PNE spokesperson, said Playland does in fact make exceptions to COVID-19 rules that require guests over the age of two to wear a mask on rides and when waiting in line-ups. 

But she added that Playland’s COVID-19 safety plan requires all guests, regardless of whether they have a medical exemption, to wear a mask for the short period of time when an operator is in close contact with the guest while they check restraints and ensure proper riding position. 

Mikayla enjoyed one ride at Playland before she and her mother were told they weren’t allowed on more rides. (Bobbie Dube)

Ballance apologized for the “unintentional stress and anxiety” caused for the family, but said Playland is following COVID protocols. 

“We must adhere to both WorkSafeBC and the provincial health orders for both the protection of our guests as well as our staff,” Ballance said. 

B.C.’s mask mandate exempts people with physical, cognitive or mental impairments who cannot wear a mask.

Dube recalls that nobody stopped them or told them that Mikayla had to wear a mask when they entered the amusement park, went on the first ride, or when they were simply walking around. 

Dube says Mikayla has missed out on so much during the COVID-19 pandemic. While she thought Playland was something fun her daughter could do, it too has been crossed off the list. 


Halifax research group creates app to help break barriers for those living with disabilities

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A research group in Halifax is trying to make the city more inclusive to residents and visitors.

PEACH Research works to promote equity, accessibility and health in urban design and planning practices. It’s part of Dalhousie University’s school of planning and consists of faculty members, students and partners developing and executing projects to help design a better place for Haligonians to live, work and play.

One of those partners is Halifax-based non-profit reachAbility. It provides support and accessible programs to individuals facing barriers to inclusion and community participation. Each year, it hosts National AccessAbility Week (NAAW) to celebrate and recognize contributions made by people living with disabilities.

“Everyone in Nova Scotia and in Canada will have had, has or will have a disability,” says Tova Sherman, CEO and co-founder of reachAbility.

“Let’s find a reason to celebrate inclusion and the incredible things that people with disabilities achieve every single day in their workplace, in their lives, with their families and with their children.”

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Read more:
Halifax-based non-profit goes digital for week-long conference on accessibility and inclusion

During NAAW, the two groups hosted a virtual event on how to build a more accessible city. CANdid Access and Research for an Accessible Environment was hosted by Melanie Goodridge, pre-employment support navigator for reachAbility, and PEACH researchers Kate Clarke and Katherine Deturbide. The panel covered accessibility standards and barriers faced in the built environment, and highlighted their latest app, the CANdid Access web map.

The app allows users to share and access photos and information about the accessibility in their community.

“Take a picture of something that’s accessible/inaccessible,” Goodridge explains. “Then you give a little blurb on why and then it’s uploaded and put onto a map.”

The photos and information submitted by users of CANdid are added to the access map and can help those living with disabilities to navigate – or even avoid – certain parts of the city. Unmarked crosswalks, paved park pathways, construction zones and sidewalk conditions are some examples of what users may find on CANdid.

“It’s just a really great way to show features that are accessible versus features that are inaccessible,” says Goodridge. “You get a visual of how we can make it better and how we can change to meet the standards by 2030 of the Accessibility Act for Nova Scotia.”

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The Accessibility Act, passed in 2017, plans to improve standards for public buildings, streets, sidewalks, shared spaces and education. The standards are expected to roll out in 2022.

Read more:
Nova Scotia announces plans to support accessibility law passed in 2017

The hope is that the information collected through CANdid will one day land on the desks of provincial government officials who can make a difference.

“Nova Scotia does have some big targets to reach by 2030,” says Goodridge. “A lot of the work that the folks are doing at PEACH Research is a great way to start and an easy way for all of us to understand and digest what needs to happen so that moving forward, we can engage in our government, we can engage on a local level to see those changes being made.”

NAAW runs from May 30 to June 5. It is free and open to everyone and is available to access any time through the reachAbility website.  CANdid Access and Research for an Accessible Environment is available to watch through the reachAbility YouTube channel.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


New supports for students with disabilities make education more accessible |BC Gov News

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Students with disabilities enrolled at public post-secondary institutions are receiving more supports to help them succeed in their studies and train for a range of in-demand careers.

“Every British Columbian deserves the opportunity to achieve their career dreams and goals,” said Anne Kang, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Training. “We’re empowering students with accessibility challenges to pursue post-secondary training and education to reach their goals, get good-paying jobs and fully participate in B.C.’s strong, resilient economy.”

The Province is providing additional support to three programs that facilitate accessible education across public post-secondary institutions. The Academic Communication Equity (ACE), Centre for Accessible Post-Secondary Education Resources (CAPER) and Program for Institutional Loan of Adaptive Technology (PILAT) help students with accessibility challenges train for in-demand jobs, including those in the technology and trades sectors.

“Almost 25% of adults in B.C. identify as living with a disability. That means a potentially large number of people struggle with unnecessary barriers to training and education,” said Dan Coulter, Parliamentary Secretary for Accessibility. “We remain committed to building a more accessible and inclusive B.C., and these three new programs are a great step towards that goal.”

The ACE program supports accessible post-secondary education for students who are deaf, hard of hearing or deaf-blind and attending, or planning to attend, college or university in B.C.

The CAPER program provides alternative-learning-format resource materials, such as digital audio books, large print texts, electronic texts and other suitable formats to students and instructors.

The PILAT program supports post-secondary students that require specialized adaptive technology and/or software, such as TypeWell Transcriber and XamBox computer technology.

The $250,000 in additional funding towards these three programs will support approximately 3,000 students with disabilities at public post-secondary institutions. This additional support addresses an increase in demand and will help these students succeed throughout the COVID-19 pandemic recovery.

Prior to the pandemic, B.C.’s Labour Market Outlook estimated 861,000 jobs will need to be filled over the next 10 years. These ranged from trades, technology and tourism, to health care, management and business. Some level of post-secondary education or training will be required for about 80% of those job openings.

Approximately 71,000 students received federal/provincial student financial assistance through StudentAid BC in 2019-20, totalling $768 million. This included 4,800 students with disabilities.

The Province has proclaimed May 30 to June 5, 2021, as B.C.’s fourth AccessAbility Week, to promote inclusion and accessibility, while also celebrating the people in the disability community who are working to identify, remove and prevent barriers to accessibility. AccessAbility Week is also nationally recognized.

A backgrounder follows.


Provincial funding supports people with disabilities |BC Gov News

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In celebration of British Columbia’s fourth annual AccessAbility Week, people with disabilities will be supported through $500,000 in new community grants aimed at improving accessibility and inclusion.

AccessAbility Week highlights the efforts of people, communities and workplaces that are actively removing barriers so people of all abilities have a better chance to succeed.  

“AccessAbility Week is an opportunity to appreciate the many ways that people living with disabilities and their advocates have made our province more accessible and inclusive,” said Nicholas Simons, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “This past year has put additional pressures on people facing barriers and these grants, along with our tabled accessibility legislation, demonstrate our government’s commitment to building a barrier-free B.C.”

Disability Alliance BC (DABC) will distribute the grants to support local accessibility projects throughout the province. Calls for proposals will be posted on DABC’s website later in the year. Grants will vary depending on each project’s size and scope, and will be given to projects focusing on accessible education and learning, sports and recreation, arts, culture and tourism, community participation, emergency planning and response, or accessible employment.

The Province proclaimed May 30 to June 5, 2021, as AccessAbility Week to promote inclusion and accessibility, while also celebrating the people in the disability community who are working to identify, remove and prevent barriers to accessibility. B.C.’s week coincides with National AccessAbility Week and National Indigenous AccessAbility Week.

The accessible British Columbia act was introduced on April 28, 2021. Once passed, it will enable the Province to move ahead with establishing new accessibility standards in a range of areas, including education, the built environment and the delivery of services.


Dan Coulter, Parliamentary Secretary for Accessibility –

“This week, we celebrate the abilities of people, recognize the individuals and organizations who continue to go above and beyond, and raise awareness about what each of us can do to make our province more inclusive. Today’s announced grant funding will support organizations across the province in removing barriers and creating new local opportunities for British Columbians with disabilities.”

Karen Martin, executive director, operations, Disability Alliance BC –

“Disability Alliance BC is very pleased to be selected to administer the Accessibility Project again in 2021. We are grateful that the ministry continues to support the work of organizations as they increase accessibility and make their communities and programs more inclusive of people with disabilities. Projects that make connections and provide opportunities to participate are especially important during the pandemic and going forward.”

Tiffany Tjosvold, executive director, Embrace Arts Foundation –

“The Accessibility Project Grant has opened up such exciting possibilities for our organization. We are now able to run our new artist-to-facilitator program, where a group of local disabled and neurodivergent artists will train together and refine their skills as community facilitators. We believe it is important to have more disabled and neurodivergent artists in leadership roles within the community. We can’t wait to see what impact this will have on our organization and our community at large.”

Lynda Edmonds, CEO, Fraserside Community Services Society –

“The Accessibility Project Grant has helped Fraserside be better prepared and equipped in keeping the people we serve and employ safe. The grant gave us the means to design and implement an effective pandemic response plan that ensured persons served by Fraserside, especially those with disabilities, continued to receive support during this difficult time. We also created a disaster response plan that will act as a guide during an emergency to keep everyone safe and informed. Thank you for helping our persons served live a barrier-free life.”

Quick Facts:

  • In 2020, 14 organizations received funding for accessibility projects.
  • As of 2017, there are more than 926,000 British Columbians over the age of 15 with some form of disability.

Learn More:

Visit the Disability Alliance BC website for more information:

Previous Accessibility Project Grant recipients can be found here:

Learn more about British Columbia’s accessibility legislation:

View the AccessAbility Week 2021 Proclamation:



Changes at Parlee Beach means improved access for people with disabilities

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New Brunswick’s largest beach will once again be open to the public starting Friday and visitors to Parlee Beach Provincial Park will notice some changes that include improved access for those with disabilities.

“We have been lobbying for years now to make the entire province accessible,” said Mathieu Stever, the manager of the ParaNB program with Ability New Brunswick

The provincial park is getting a $2-million facelift in advance of its second season in operation amid the pandemic. According to the province, funding for the upgrades is being applied from the capital improvement budgets from 2020 to 2022.

Read more:
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The work includes upgrades to roads, entrances, the canteen, restaurant bar and patio area as well as improved access to the beach, according to the park’s manager, Michel Mallet, who said they partnered with Ability NB on the project starting in 2019.

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“We call it a comfort station, which is basically an accessible washroom and accessible charging room and shower outside,” said Mallet.

Improved sidewalks and beach-friendly wheelchairs will also be available for visitors, said Mallet.

He said an accessible playground is also being installed in the coming weeks. The hope is to have the upgrades ready by the end of the school year, he said.

Click to play video: 'Program helping Moncton youth with disabilities find work'

Program helping Moncton youth with disabilities find work

Program helping Moncton youth with disabilities find work – Mar 18, 2021

“I think it is great having Parlee Beach set the example of how you can renovate the beach and make it accessible for everyone because our motto is that everyone plays,” said Stever.

Stever said he hopes the initiative will encourage other provincial parks in the province to do similar upgrades.

“It is everyone’s right to be able to access all recreation activities in the province”, he said.

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Parlee Beach opens on Friday with COVID-19 protocols similar to last year, said Mallet.

All washrooms and changing rooms, even the accessible ones, will remain closed for now, he said.

Access to the provincial beach for vacationers from outside of the province will also depend on the loosening of COVID-19 restrictions.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


B.C. artists stage Chicago-inspired performance spotlighting disrespect faced by people with disabilities | CBC News

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The cast members in a theatrical performance being staged virtually this week aren’t likely to attack anyone who parks in a handicapped spot, but their fictional characters might.

Wheel Voices: Tune In! is a mashup of original scenes, rap, spoken word and songs featuring 14 Lower Mainland artists. It is the latest production by Realwheels Theatre, a company dedicated to telling stories that deepen people’s understanding about disabilities.

The show premiers online at 7 p.m. Wednesday and includes a parody of the famous Cell Block Tango song from the 1975  musical Chicago in which six female prisoners share via song the details of the murders they committed that put them behind bars.

“They had it coming, they only have themselves to blame,” the women sing.

In Wheel Voices, the song is titled Disability Cell Block Tango and the victims are people who cut in front of wheelchair users to access public transit, people who take up handicapped spots and others who have disrespected people living with disabilities.

Amelia Cooper says it’s frustrating when people cut in front of wheelchair users to access public transit. (Facebook/RealwheelsTheatre)

“We always think about what we would do to those people,” said performer Amelia Cooper, during an interview with CBC’s The Early Edition guest host Michelle Eliot.

As a wheelchair user,  she’s irked by people who cut in line through the wheelchair gate at transit stations. Another move she finds offensive is when people offer to bring up her situation with God.

“I’ve had multiple people come up to me and try to pray for me,” said Cooper.

The chorus of Disability Cell Block Tango reveals the characters sought the ultimate revenge on all these offenders: “Compass gate, prayer circle, parking spot … they had it coming,” is the parody’s chorus.

Cooper said creating these characters and their costumes was a blast. She plays an incarcerated drug dealer who trades narcotics for crafts while in jail. A jail where the cells have wheelchair buttons.

“Part of the reason we do it is to bring about awareness so that people know and they can try and help reduce the amount of struggles that people with disabilities have to go through,” said Cooper about staging productions with a purpose.

Wheel Voices: Tune In! can be watched online at 7 p.m. PT on Wednesday, May 5, with American Sign Language  interpretation. A second performance will be presented at the same time on May 14 with audio description.

Both performances are followed by a Q&A with cast and crew.

The Early Edition8:00“Comedic revenge fantasy” by people with disabilities

Amelia Cooper is the writer, and one of the performers in “The Disability Cell Block Tango.” It’s one of the pieces tonight as part of RealWheel’s online show “Wheel Voices: Tune In!” It’s a “pay-what-you-can” show, starting at 7 pm. And if you miss it, there’s a second show on May 14th. You can get tickets at 8:00


B.C. advocate says proposed federal COVID-19 benefit for Canadians with disabilities leaves many with nothing | CBC News

by admin

The federal government is considering a one-time emergency benefit for people with disabilities to help them cope with the added costs imposed by the pandemic, but a B.C.-based disability advocate says even if the legislation does pass, it won’t go far enough.

Heather Walkus, first vice chair of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities, says the legislation only applies to people who currently receive a disability tax credit, which she says is only about 40 per cent of Canadians living with disability.

According to Walkus, the majority of people receiving government money due to a disability receive the Canada Pension Plan Disability (CPPD) benefit and those individuals will not receive the $600 payment recently debated in the House of Commons.

“You are leaving about 60 per cent of people with disabilities in Canada without those supports,” said WalkusTuesday on The Early Edition.

Legislation in limbo

The Liberal government announced their proposed new benefit on June 5. However, the plan remains in limbo after the bill, C-17, failed to secure unanimous consent in the House of Commons on June 10.

The Commons adjourned without any sort of resolution, with the parties at an impasse over how to proceed. 

All of the opposition parties — not just the Conservatives — had problems with the bill as written.

NDP leader, Jagmeet Singh, raised the same concerns as Walkus and asked for the disability payments to be sent to more people.

“We are already struggling with inclusion, accessibility and poverty and those are issues that have been opened up greatly in the COVID response,” said Walkus, adding the disability community suffered disproportionately to the rest of the population due to the pandemic.

She said specific examples include: lack of accessible accommodation for people with disabilities who need to self-isolate, reduced home support staff, lack of personal protective equipment, challenges accessing information for the blind community, and challenges accessing appointments and stores because of reduced public transportation service.

“Most systems in the emergency response plan did not contemplate people with disabilities,” said Walkus, adding the government should have included disability advocates in conversations about emergency provisions at the onset of the health crisis.

There are approximately six million people living with a disability in Canada.

Tap here to hear the complete interview with Heather Walkus on The Early Edition.

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