Questions Asked of Candidates
1. How have disability issues affected you and your family?
2. What do you see as being the greatest accessibility challenges within your constituency and what will you do to address these challenges?
Green Party of Manitoba Candidate - Robert Smith
No response received
Independent Candidate - Damian Dempsey
Answer 1. So far I have not been greatly affected by disability issues in my personal life, though I remember when my uncle was suffering the effects of MS back in Britain in the 1970's. There was no concept of access for disabilities. We had to carry him up and down stairs and assist in any number of ways when were out together. It was a sort of 'figure it out yourself' mentality for how to get physical access to things. It is still a mystery to me what you were supposed to do without family and friends for support. And just the idea that one would constantly need to be dependent on others, and not have services that are accessible for those with limited mobility to help themselves, is wrong. My own experience with disability was when I had carpal tunnel surgery and could not use one of my hands. I could only imagine what it would be like to have those limitations permanently, or in both hands. So many activities I normally take for granted were nearly impossible to perform on my own; constantly needing help was very frustrating.
Many of our citizens have serious and permanent disabilities, and when part of the community is affected we all are. As we move ahead to where every individual has access to the advantages of our society, we need to accomplish that goal for our people with disabilities. These advantages include having meaningful work with opportunities for advancement, ensuring adequate support for individuals so that all are cared for and able to access social/health services and cultural amenities, and maximizing individual potential to achieve and be as independent as possible. This is a challenge for society as a whole, and it poses specific issues for people with disabilities.
Answer 2. It is hard to select the greatest accessibility challenges in Agassiz, as so many are interrelated. Limited physical accessibility in businesses and public places is linked to limited or non-accessibility in terms of finding employment, getting promotions, and just being able to patronise those places. All Agassiz residents experience wait lists to get family doctors and often long wait times to get appointments, and that needs to be addressed; targeting the same issues for people with disabilities to get timely physical and mental health support is a must.
If elected, I would press for honoring the terms of the AMA that was passed in 2013. Also, the "Five-Priority Pathway" proposed by Abilities Manitoba sums up many of the issues that need to be addressed in order to provide Manitoba's citizens with disabilities access to the lives they deserve, and to give those who are employed in serving that population fair and just working conditions and competitive wages. Shortening wait times for services, altering government programs so that they encourage people with disabilities to obtain employment and educate employers about employing the disabled, supporting youth with disabilities through strong school-to-work transition programs are all important. Of course ensuring that public places are physically accessible to all is a necessity. We can look to other provinces for successful programs that support income for those with severe and permanent disabilities so they are not living life in poverty. This is a long and challenging to do list but we need to get a start on it.
New Democratic Party Candidate - Courtney Lucas
Answer 1. A family member of mine lives with an intellectual disability. The stigma surrounding disabilities is something that definitely needs to be addressed in society.
Answer 2. Many Manitobans face real barriers in receiving the care they need simply due to the great distances they need to travel to receive access. I would work hard in making sure that those services are more accessible and affordable.
Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba Candidate - Eileen Clarke
Answer 1: I have had people within my family with disabilities. I had a cousin with Downs Syndrome who lived to her senior years and her younger sister who has been living with Multiple Sclerosis since she was 16 years of age. She has over the years lost all her independence and has lived for the past years in a long term care facility. She has a sound mind but is young and living with people who are much older. Her quality of life is sad because her surroundings are difficult to survive in. This past year my dad was very ill and gradually lost his ability to drive, walk and look after his basic daily needs. We had to adjust to a completely different life.
Answer 2: There are issues across the Agassiz Constituency that affected persons with disabilities, persons of all ages and a variety of disabilities. I understand the needs of access in to buildings, access to appropriate transportation, ability to remain independent with small changes in buildings and businesses. I am committed to work within my constituency and throughout the province to ensure persons with disabilities have a voice in government and are considered a priority for discussion and funding where most required. I met with management and board members just a few days ago to discuss their programs and challenges and I look forward to future meeting if elected. I will also meet with the management and board at Sprucedale in Austin.