Amongst the great feedback we have received during this campaign for a #NationalDisabilityStrategy, we commonly get two sets of concerns that we would like to address.
Concern 1: You are talking about all disabilities, but no-one ever talks about chronic pain disabilities, or environmental allergy disabilities. Or, our disability was never included in the 6.2 million that Stats canada quoted, there wasn’t a space for us.
When we are talking about Every Disability, we mean Every Disability. We envision a Canada that has removed its barriers that stand in the way of disabled Canadians thriving at home, at school, at work and in the community. Every disability means just that. We are fighting for those whose voices may not have been heard before. For Canadians that may have more than one disability, and may only get supports for one. Every disability means ALL disabilities.
Concern 2: Wouldn’t it be better to work out National Strategies for individual conditions, because some disabilities have greater more specific needs? If we try to advocate for everything for everybody, governments might get spooked. And we may end up with a situation where nobody gets anything.
The risk we run with having multiple groups fighting for individual national strategies, is that the energy of government is spent early on smaller changes, and it can be seen as discriminatory towards other groups with similar needs. There are over 6.2 million Canadians with disabilities. There are barriers in the way of all these Canadians, and it is time as a country that we prioritize the removal of these barriers.
We as a country, as citizens, organizations and governments, need to take a hard look at the current barriers at home, at school, at work and in the community. Together we can come up with a strategy that can work to eliminate these barriers. Not in a piecemeal fashion, one disability at a time, but in a way that meets the needs of all Canadians with disabilities.
This is a strategy for Canadians with physical disabilities, mental health disabilities, neurodevelopmental disabilities, environmental disabilities, chronic pain disabilities. For autistics, deaf, diabetic, paraplegic, those with fibromyalgia, in wheelchairs, using canes, using sign language. We need a National Disability Strategy that serves Every Disability at Every Age with Every Need.
We want a #BarrierFree Canada, a place where all Canadians thrive. There is great momentum for this happening right now, and we need to keep pushing, past this election, and into the next session of Parliament. We can all be in this together.