Well, in general I'd say no one, but apparently I am wrong! This is both strange and a bit frightening, even though of course the difference between talking about disability and doing something that impacts on the lives of Actual Disabled People are two entirely different things.
The Council of Canadians with Disabilities (the CCD) have sent out a press release informing everyone that the Liberals have actually put disability-issues on their platform. I tried to find this information out on the Liberal website, but I struggled. See, their website is a mess of inaccessibility, which I know they've been informed of because I informed them of it. WebAim detects 46 accessibility-related errors just on their front page
, and none of their videos provide actual captioning. Lucky we have YouTube auto-captions to the rescue, right?
Description: It's a screen capture from a YouTube video. Michael Ignatieff, an older white politician, is captioned as saying "And we met start ninety one for you".Larger versions of the image are available
I would tell you what he's actually saying but I have an ear infection so I have no idea. And neither would the indeterminate number of Canadians who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing
.You can watch the video yourself, though.
When I did finally poke around on the website, all I found about the Liberal election platform on disability wasfamily care
and a national pharmacare plan
(I will address the national pharmacare plan briefly: I think it's relatively pathetic. I know I should be all happy because pharmacare! but all I can think is "Okay, yes, catastrophic illness, go you! But what about chronic long-term ones?" It's possibly this will be covered, as they mention diabetes and arthritis, but they specifically use the language of catastrophic illness.)
The Family Care plans that have been bandied about by the Liberals and Harper have been really firmly aimed at a particular demographic: two-income homes where either a child or an elderly parent is in need of long-term care from a family member (
because the hospitals refuse to accept them because they're too sick to treat
). I know this because of what they're offering. Harper offered a $300 tax credit to people who stay home to take care of a family member. The Liberals are offering either six months of EI benefits or, to people who do not work in jobs that contribute to EI, a "Family Care Tax Benefit", which is a monthly tax-free payment.
Gentle reader, let us consider that "Family Care Tax Benefit" for a moment. This is the thing I'm supposed to be most impressed with, the thing that is most likely to help my family.
First, some background: I am the caregiver to my wonderful husband, Don, who was born with Marfan Syndrome. In July of last year his health took a series of hits, and by January of this year he was in bed basically 24 hours a day except for twice a day trips to the bathroom. He is taking enough pain relieving drugs that he cannot operate a stove safely, he cannot risk a shower even with the shower chair, he has difficulties keeping track of how many of his meds he's taken, and just earlier this week flew into a panic because he couldn't find one of his medications because he had completely forgotten that I had handed him the new prescription the day before. Many of his current problems are being blamed on his gastro-intestinal issues that cropped up in July, and the current theory is that once those are actually treated
, his pain levels will drop, he'll be able to go back on his lower-dose medications, and he'll go back to being able to get out of the house three or four times a week, run errands, take care of the garbage and recycling and laundry, and all of those things that he does when he's not crippled by the health care system. His GI appointment is on Thursday.
I've taken off three months this year in order to care for him.
The hospital tells me that this has nothing
to do with his health at all, while simultaneously telling me that they're sending him home instead of admitting him because he's got someone at home who can help him with tasks like eating and going to the bathroom.
Okay, so, here is our household, where there is only one adult who is able to work, rather than two, because the other adult in the household is permanently disabled, and the working adult has had to take time off to care for the other.
How much money do you think we would need in order to run our household and ensure Don received regular meals he can eat (which right now is limited to dry cereal, apple sauce, pudding, and frozen waffles), the power and phone stayed turn on, and we could afford the medications that he needs to live? Oh, and rent. Absolutely nothing else: not internet, not fancy meals, not even food enough for me, just food enough for Don. Just, add that up in your head.
The Liberals think it's, at the maximum, $112.50 per month.
Oh, but Anna! You should have savings! Things you can draw on. And yes, gentle reader, we
do. We are currently living off money that we have been gifted by extended family members. We can do this because our families have both regularly been sending money to support us. If we didn't, I'm sure I would have to go back to working two jobs in order to have enough money to keep Don comfortable and ensure he was never out of meds, because that's what we had to do before. And when you're working two crappy-paying jobs, you can't find the time to get out of either one of them into something that pays better. And how much of my income would end up going to someone else to take care of Don (or at least check in on him) because I'd never be home?
"Poverty Eradication Plans" often do not include people with disabilities because the costs associated with living with disabilities are quite high. People with disabilities are disproportionately living in poverty: while 10% of Canadians overall live in poverty, 15% of Canadians with disabilities do. They end up doing things like splitting their life-saving medications to make the prescriptions last longer. They don't take their meds and get sicker. They don't get access to things like canes or walkers or wheelchairs because those things cost money and the amount of paperwork required to get in on charities that will pay for them is very high. It is difficult to get work when you're disabled. It is difficult to access community supports when you're disabled. It is difficult to get housing when you're disabled.
$112.50 per month, and that's still more than the Conservatives are offering.
According to the Council of Canadians with Disabilities, this is what the Liberal platform includes
- An "action plan" for implementing, monitoring and reporting on the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which Canada ratified in 2010.
- Restoring funding to the Court Challenges program, which has been used by Canadians with Disabilities to force Via Rail to follow the law and have wheelchair accessible train cars.
- The Liberals have "promised to address the housing needs of persons with disabilities" in their Affordable Housing plans
I promised I would vote for the first party I felt was actually going to address the needs of Canadians with disabilities. I've been encouraged to vote for the Liberals because of these highlighted issues.
Perhaps this post makes it clear why my vote is still up for grabs.