Surrey South MLA Stephanie Cadieux. (Camryn Traa file photo)

OPINION: Creative solutions needed to support people with disabilities

COVID-19 crisis revealing gaps in B.C.’s system of care, writes Liberal MLA Stephanie Cadieux

While governments at all levels respond to COVID-19, it is important that we recognize that there is a group of people who are disproportionately impacted by this pandemic, people with disabilities.

For some people with disabilities, it is underlying medical conditions that will put them at greater risk of serious complications related to COVID-19. But for another group, there are very real daily impacts – of discrimination and barriers in accessing information, services, and health care. For yet another group, the need for self-isolation and physical distancing is creating additional challenges, either in basic daily functioning or in some cases, escalating stress and violence in families.

People with disabilities are about 1 in 5 in our society. They aren’t one group, they aren’t all the same, they are 20 per cent of every group and as such their needs and experiences are varied. It cannot be assumed that a categorization of ‘vulnerable populations’ will adequately address their needs.

We have been raising these issues with government for weeks now. The answers we are getting are not comforting.

The federal government announced last week that they were establishing a COVID-19 Disability Advisory Group, comprised of experts in disability inclusion. The B.C. government should do the same. There needs to be a conduit to government for the real-time lived experiences of persons with disabilities during this crisis, the emerging challenges and systemic gaps, and potential measures and steps to deal with those realities.

People with disabilities and the community-based organizations that support them are best positioned to suggest how to provide creative solutions to challenges – they innovate every day. But right now, there are real challenges to accessing necessary daily health care and critical health supplies. Without some creative solutions, people will end up in hospital – the last place we want them to be.

While government has been responsive to the needs of vulnerable populations with financial supports, it is not clear that they are putting a disability lens on decision-making. Advocates and stakeholders have been frustrated and concerns remain. Especially in the areas of equality of access to health care and supports; access to information; and the lack of an emergency response plan for people with disabilities.

The community deserves to know – unequivocally – that their provincial government is committed to the rights of every citizen and the value of every life, including the right to equal access to medical treatment and care.

Stephanie Cadieux is Liberal MLA for Surrey South

BC politicsCoronavirusdisabilities

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(Photo: Twitter@SurreyRCMP)
Surrey Mounties, pet owners, bracing for Halloween

Last year the Surrey RCMP received 147 fireworks complaints on Diwali and 121 on Halloween

(Delta Police Department photo)
Delta police investigating after another teen girl followed in Tsawwassen

Police say a man in a burgundy car approached teen girls on at least two, possibly three occasions

White Rock RCMP are searching for Richard John Lewis, who is wanted on warrants for assault and uttering threats. (RCMP handout)
White Rock RCMP searching for wanted man

Richard John Lewis is wanted on warrants for assault, uttering threats

partial graphic used in "Get Serious" campaign by Surrey business groups.
‘Get Serious’ message about COVID pushed by Surrey business groups fearing ‘economic shutdown’

‘Different social media messages will be sent out daily with significant messaging…’

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count jumps by 287, another senior home outbreak

Two more deaths recorded, community outbreak in Okanagan

An untitled Emily Carr painting of Finlayson Point was donated to the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria by brothers Ian and Andrew Burchett. The painting had been in their family for several decades. (Courtesy of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria)
Never before seen painting by famed B.C. artist Emily Carr gifted to Victoria gallery

Painting among several donated to Art Gallery of Greater Victoria

The B.C. Centre for Disease control is telling people to keep an eye out for the poisonous death cap mushroom, which thrives in fall weather conditions. (Paul Kroeger/BCCDC)
Highly poisonous death cap mushroom discovered in Comox

This marks first discovery on Vancouver Island outside Greater Victoria area

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
Rescued bald eagle that came to life in B.C. man’s car had lead poisoning

Bird is on medication and recovering in rehab centre

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Janet Austin, lieutenant governor of B.C., was presented with the first poppy of the Royal Canadian Legion’s 2020 Poppy Campaign on Wednesday. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)
PHOTOS: B.C. Lieutenant Governor receives first poppy to kick off 2020 campaign

Janet Austin ‘honour and a privileged’ to receive the poppy

Premier-elect John Horgan and cabinet ministers are sworn in for the first time at Government House in Victoria, July 18, 2017. (Arnold Lim/Black Press)
Pandemic payments have to wait for B.C. vote count, swearing-in

Small businesses advised to apply even if they don’t qualify

The B.C. Teacher Regulation Branch has issued a decision about the actions of an elementary school teacher in Langley. (Langley Advance Times files)
Langley elementary teacher suspended for grabbing, shoving, yelling at kids

Roxann Rojas will lose her legal authority to teach for two weeks from Oct. 25 to Nov. 7, 2020

Most Read