Fort Garry - Riverview
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 - James Beddome
Answer 1: Disability issues affect us all. I have a vey good friend who is dating a girl who is deaf and she has shared with me the high costs of privately procuring ASL interpretation services to go to school or to perform needed errands. I have friends and co-workers who have children living with autism, and I have seen how long they have to wait for needed supports and services. Numerous of the Green Party candidates have been affected by disability issues. My nephew was born a partial left hand amputee, but in many respects this has not limited him at all, with the support of my family and with assistance of organizations such as the War Amps my nephew has had every opportunity to live a wonderful life. In many ways I am lucky because I do not have any disability issues that I deal with at present, but many of us may face disability issues as we age, so these are issues that we must address.
Answer 2: As I have been knocking at the doorstep speaking with the people of Fort Garry-Riverview numerous issues have been raised that deserve attention:
- Many of the residents of Fort Garry-Riverview are themselves disability support workers, and the wages of disability support workers are on average much lower than the wages of other caring professionals, resulting in high staff turn-over. To address this, we need to look at the provincial funding arrangements with the non-profit agencies that provide disability services with an aim towards closing the gap in earning for disability support workers’ vis-a-viz other caring professionals.
- Individuals living with disabilities, particularly young adults, need more support in transitioning to the work force. We need to capture the untapped human capital potential of the disability community. This requires greater efforts towards public education and perhaps some workplace incentives, because with a limited amount of accommodation, studies have shown that employing people with disabilities is not only the right thing to do it is also good for business.
- Fort Garry-Riverview is an older neighborhood and many of the buildings in the riding are not accessible. If I were elected I would work to create programs to work with local businesses to help them make their establishments more accessible. We also need the province to work with the City of Winnipeg to ensure that snow-plowing sidewalks is given and equal or greater priority over plowing the roads.
- People are waiting far to long for needed services, such as access mental health services, autism therapy and support services. Greens would make mental health part of medi-care.
There are undeniably, many more issues that I am forgetting about. I find that by listening to people about there own individual concerns and their own ideas of how we could best solve the challenges we are facing together, we are best able to come up with solutions.
Manitoba Liberal Party Candidate - Johanna Wood
Answer 1: Myself and my family have experienced disability related barriers to employment.
Answer 2: One of the greatest challenges that I see within my constituency is access to disability related services. I would work to make sure that residents that required assistance would receive the help they needed.
New Democratic Party Candidate - James Allum
Answer 1: I had the pleasure of putting together the Universal Design policy and guidelines as a part of my work at the City of Winnipeg. Universal Design ensures accessibility regardless of ability. It is the actual practice of changing and building our physical spaces to ensure anyone who wants or needs to be there, can be there safely and comfortably and in ways where they are a part of the larger group and not somehow separate.
The process of writing that work was instructive for me. I learned how aspects of the built environment that many of us take for granted can prevent people from travelling the space. I also learned how there is really no excuse for the built environment to prevent people from accessing a space - the innovations available and being developed now ensure that everyone can be a part of what is happening. And of course, human creativity can always find a way. This experience has helped me look at spaces in new ways. When I walk into a building or a room, I’m aware of whether a wheelchair would get caught on the threshold, whether a visually impaired impaired individual would be able to way find, and even how lighting can impact someone living with a cognitive disorder. We’re richer when everyone can participate from a place of dignity, and I’m committed to supporting continued movement towards universal access for all.
Answer 2: Fort Garry-Riverview is home to a vibrant population of senior citizens who are very involved in our community. Many of them are rather independent, yet live with health challenges that impact their mobility, for example. I’m so proud of Manitoba’s home care program and our aging in place strategy. These measures have ensured that more seniors can stay at home longer, supported with staffing and home modifications.
Yet, accessibility affects people of all ages. Another group we hear from, particularly in Fort Garry Riverview, are parents of students with learning disabilities who want more support in the classroom. I’m proud that our government has worked on a number of initiatives to increase quality of education for all students, including smaller class sizes, and new supports to ensure that students can achieve success in the classroom.
I’m excited about the commitments the NDP has made to increase quality of life for persons with disabilities. Our NDP government increased Income Assistance for persons with disabilities by 30%, and if reelected, will offer assured income for low-income Manitobans living with disabilities. We completed customer service standards and will launch standards in the other priority areas transportation, information and communications, and built environment.
If re-elected, the over $3 million from our Wage Enhancement fund will be invested in further wage increases for service providers to individuals with intellectual disabilities, and we’ll renew the Fund, providing $2 million a year for another 3 years.
We’ll Invest in independent living resources, home sharing, cooperative housing and cluster apartment living to offer more community living options to more Manitobans. A re-elected NDP government will also double the number of QuickCare clinics, from 8 to 16, and extend operating hours at every one.
Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba Candidate - Jeannette Montufar
Answer 1: This is a very personal issue for me and my family. Some of us have suffered from mental health for many years and it has been a tough journey for everyone. I have lost 5 extended family members to suicide, including my grand-father, due to mental health issues. While I have always kept this very private, I understand the importance of being transparent about it as an elected official. This is why I have chosen to share this painful reality with you today and this is also why I am fully committed to elevating the discussion and action regarding disability issues in our province.
Answer 2: Winnipeg as a whole has a large seniors population, and this constituency is no exception. With an aging population come increased levels of physical disability and hence, mobility and accessibility challenges. I am quite knowledgeable about this fact because for the last 13 years, as an engineering professor at the University of Manitoba, my research has focused on the equitable and safe accommodation of seniors and people with physical disabilities in our transportation system. This is something very important to me because having access to barrier-free infrastructure can have a positive impact on the quality of life of people. If elected, I will continue to uphold these core believes and values and will work with those who are willing to make Manitoba a better place for people with disabilities.