"So many dreams at first seem impossible. And then they seem improbable. And then when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable."
~ Christopher Reeve

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Perfect Summer Day

You might remember my previous post about Kilometers for Communication and 17-year-old's Skye's journey across Canada to raise awareness and funds around issues of augmentative and alternate communication.

Yeah, I'm a bit of a fan. I admit it.
Which is why I was thrilled to learn that Friday July 22nd, 2011 is the big day!

From 11:30am—1:30pm on the Halifax waterfront, outside the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. BE. THERE.

I'm not too pushy, am I?

Hope not, but then again, you were warned that we really need to give Skye and his family a warm Maritime welcome, weren't you?

To top off the perfect day, apparently Q104 will be on hand for some fun and free food! But as much as I love the words fun, sun and food in the same sentence, that's not the real reason to be there, is it?

For more details, contact: reneajoy@eastlink.ca

And be sure to check out Skye’s blog or, better yet, follow it and his journey as I'be been doing.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

If Only ...

I came across this story a few days ago and it made me really, really wish the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms contained wording similar that found in the Americans with Disabilities Act, requiring that people with disabilities be allowed to live in the "most integrated setting" within their communities.

Because if it did, then maybe, just maybe, we could just as easily settle our own class action law suit and rather than assigning dollars to “institutions,” the money would follow the individual to the housing of their choice.

A federal judge on Wednesday approved a settlement to a long-running civil case that will force Illinois to begin moving hundreds of people with developmental and intellectual disabilities into more community-based homes and apartments of their choice.

“I firmly believe that the state of Illinois, the citizens, have been well-served by these efforts,” said U.S. District Judge James Holderman, who congratulated lawyers who have spent months negotiating terms of controversial case.

“I will issue an order promptly,” he said, noting that he had received only two objections out of 21Ö responses filed with the court. “I will announce informally today that my position is that the consent decree should be approved and this should be the law that is followed.”

The settlement in the case filed in 2005 by Stanley Ligasd and other plaintiffs will change the way the state now pays for their care. Rather than assigning dollars to “institutions,” the money would follow the individual to the housing of their of their choice. Institutions are defined in the lawsuit as any private, state-funded facility with nine or more residents.
Unfortunately, though, that's not the case

Leaving us to rely on sec. 15 of the Charter.
Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.
And although there are numerous examples of people attempting (unfortunately, not all that successfully) to use the equality provisions of the Charter to fund adequate social assistance rates and sec. 7 guarantees to "life, liberty and security of the person" to argue a right to subsidized housing for Canadians, I'm not sure that anyone has yet tried to pair sec. 15 rights with a right for the physically and mentally challenged to live within their own communities, in the homes they would choose.  As opposed to those that are imposed on chosen for them.

Although I'm thinking the wording of sec. 15 will never be found to support such a right; that we would need much more explicit wording, such as that found in the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Still, anyone there aware of any Canadian case law in this regard?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Yet Another Issue

Still heady with our recent success over the gap year issue, my mind recently turned to another, related topic.

Hopefully, everyone whose child is enrolled in the Province's Direct Family Support Program for Children (formerly known as In Home Support for Children) is aware of the extra respite funding (up to $1,000) available over the summer months. No complaints there, it's a lifesaver for this family.

But it occurred to me recently that our family won't have access to that additional summer respite funding next summer, given that our oldest child recently turned 18 (let's not even go there!) and next year will have (supposedly) transitioned to the Direct Family Support for Adults program.  The Direct Family Support for Adults program,while it may have much to recommend it does not offer additional summer respite funding. 

And that would make  sense I suppose as long as the "adult" in question is not still enrolled in high school and, thus, still faced with two long summer months without a whole lot to do.  I mean it's not like she's going to be able to get a summer job, is it?  Or even summer work in some short of sheltered workshop environment? No, no she's not.

So it only make sense to me that as long as these kids young adults are still in school, the summer respite funding should continue.

Yes, I am well aware that there are many, many other issues to be dealt with.  But for us, like most families, I imagine, those issues that face us in the immediate future tend to stand out in stark contrast. Right now, there are a few staring me in the face, the most immediate being school and behaviour-related but as I determine our needs for summer respite for this year, I can see far enough down the road to be cognizant of the problem we will face next summer.

My. Daughter. Simply. Does. Not. Do. Down. Time. No way. No how. 

She just doesn't know how, which tends to make summer challenging even when I have access to a pot of extra respite funding.  Because then I only have to find respite workers and appropriate activities. (Yes, there was just a touch of sarcasm there.)  But without that money?  No, it's probably best I don't think too much about that at the moment.

So let's just consider this a heads up.  It's an issue that many, many families face and one I'm hoping we will be able to do something about in the near future.

So. Any future takers out there?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Press Release - 2011 Federal Budget Recognizes More Needed for People with Disabilities and Families

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

June 6, 2011, Toronto – ON. The Federal Budget tabled today before the House of Commons recognizes that more needs to be done to support people with disabilities and their families. CACL’s President Bendina Miller welcomed the budget measures and expressed: “Today’s budget takes modest steps to address the needs of people with disabilities and their families. It recognizes that: families and caregivers are at the core of supports to persons with disabilities and that more needs to be done to support them in this role; improvements are needed to the RDSP to ensure people with intellectual disabilities are able to enjoy equal benefit of the savings mechanism without jeopardizing their legal capacity; and, that new investments are needed to address the long-standing exclusion of people with intellectual disabilities from the labour market.”

CACL is encouraged by the inclusion of disability issues in this Federal Budget and is hopeful these new investments are first steps in developing a more comprehensive national disability strategy. In particular, the Federal Budget commits to:

  • Enhanced support for families and caregivers through:
o a new Family Caregiver Tax Credit, a 15-per-cent non-refundable credit on  an amount of $2,000
o removing the limit on the amount of eligible expenses that caregivers can claim under the MedicalExpense Tax Credit
o a Children’s Arts Tax credit – with an enhanced component for children eligible for the Disability Tax Credit.

  • Improving Labour Market Outcomes
o A $3billion investment over 6 years for new Labour Market Agreements to address gaps and improve labour market outcomes for under-represented groups.

  • Improving the Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) by:
o Increasing withdrawal flexibility for those with shortened life expectancies.
o Conducting a 3-year review to address issues raised by Canadians with disabilities and their families including a specific recognition of contract/legal capacity issues some adults with disabilities have encountered in trying to open and manage a RDSP.

“Employment is a major issue for people with intellectual disabilities. Something isn’t right when employment rates for working-age adults with intellectual disabilities are one-third of the employment rate of people without disabilities and when the average income for working age adults with intellectual disabilities who are working is less than half of that of Canadians without a disability. Canada needs to take a serious look at how to improve inclusive labour market outcomes for people with intellectual disabilities. This Budget is one step in that direction.” said CACL Executive Vice President, Michael Bach. “CACL looks forward to working in partnership with the Government of Canada in realizing these new investments and identifying the next steps to build strategically on these investments.”

About the Canadian Association for Community Living

The Canadian Association for Community Living is a Canada-wide association of family members and others working to advance the human rights and inclusion of persons of all ages who have an intellectual disability. CACL’s federation is comprised of 10 provincial and three territorial associations, 420 local associations and over 40,000 members.

For more information, please contact:
Michael Bach, Executive Vice-President, 416.209.7942, mbach@cacl.ca

Anna MacQuarrie
Director, Policy and Programs
Canadian Association for Community Living
Kinsmen Building, York University
4700 Keele Street
Toronto, ON M3J 1P3

Tel: 416-661-9611 ext 204
Fax: 416-661-5701
amacquarrie@cacl.ca
www.cacl.ca