From Where I Sit: Ruminations on disAbility rights, inclusion and accessibility

The recent flurry of propaganda from the musings of Dean Del Mastro, MP that has come to my attention from my postbox has caused me to be personally, as well as generally, offended. 

Being your disAbility rep. I take my position quite seriously.  The recent offering from Mr. Del Mastro's office, "Supporting Jobs for all Canadians," featured the universal "disability" sign, a partial picture of a young woman in a wheelchair, a young man on a cell phone, some shots of a construction site, and finally - a printed line in Braille, that repeats the aforementioned title.

Where Dean left me cold in this recent Economic Action Plan mail-out was this: Braille is a tactile form of communication, hence, I sincerely doubt that any of my blind contemporaries had any idea that this literature was to be "read" by them.  Indeed when I had an opportunity to ask some of my acquaintances who live with blindness if they were familiar with Mr. Del Mastro’s recent mail-out, they had no idea to what I was referring.

This literature stated that: "Our Government believes that All Canadians should be able to participate in the workforce." It has been my personal life experience, and that of many with whom I have contact in the "disAbility community," that precious few of us have participated in the workforce here in Canada.  The reality of our lives under the Harper government has been that fewer of us have been able to secure any type of employment be it full- or part-time despite many of us having equal education or skillsets to that of our "able" counterparts. The majority of us live in poverty.

Mr. Del Mastro's literature goes on to state that "Unfortunately, disabled Canadians are sometimes limited by inaccessible workplaces." That in and of itself may be accurate, however, being that job placements are becoming scarce at best for those of us living with disAbilities, if there are no "accessible" jobs to apply for initially, then indeed the current lack of opportunities available to those of us who happen to be disAbled are then further impeded by inaccessible workplaces. I am left thinking that Dean’s party rhetoric is becoming circular in nature...

This "logic" gets better as the literature goes on to say that the Conservatives have renewed their support for the "Enabling Accessibility Fund," which apparently supports local projects to increase accessibility.  I actually had to research that one for myself: 

"Through Canada’s Economic Action Plan, the federal government proposes the extension of the Enabling Accessibility Fund on an ongoing basis at a level of $15 million per year to support projects that improve the physical accessibility of persons with disabilities, including workplace accommodations."

Imagine, a budget of $15 million a year to improve accessibility throughout Canada! In my estimation, that's approximately the amount of funding that it takes to initiate the paperwork for any modest accessibility improvement project. I am left wondering about such projects that could be implemented locally here in Peterborough. 

According to Dean Del Mastro, "Improving Accessibility will remove barriers and help create jobs and economic growth." You know, it's strange, the only economic "growth" I have seen lately has been the ballooning budget for this "Action Plan"!

Further, it is my most humble opinion, that the greatest barrier to employment for folks like myself with disAbilities has been the actions of the Harper government slashing programs with impunity, and selling our country off to outside interests for years.

Mr. Del Mastro, I am personally offended by your trivialisation of people like myself who live with disAbilities and are trying to survive to the best way we can despite your government’s Economic Action Plan.  It isn't working, and neither are most of us.  I ask you, who is on the right track to improve accessibility? Certainly not the Harper Conservatives!  From where I sit, you and your government have been the greatest barrier to our economic stability, and lastly, the greatest disAbility sir, is ignorance.

-B. Snow Manning-Jones, Peterborough Provincial NDP disAbility Rep

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commented 2013-11-30 19:58:14 -0500 · Flag
Thank you
commented 2013-08-20 20:43:52 -0400 · Flag
well stated