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?
Manitoba Liberal Party Candidate - Cassidy Clement
No response received
New Democratic Party Candidate - Matt Austman
Answer 1. I’ve worked with people living with diverse intellectual abilities, and a member of my extended family is also living with an intellectual disability. In both ways, I gained some personal insight into the barriers that face those living with different abilities, and the difference quality care and treatment can make in individuals’ lives. This experience is one of the reasons I chose to run for the NDP. They are the only party committed to all aspects of accessibility and I intend to be a strong advocate for accessibility in the Legislature.
Answer 2. Increasing access to accessible transportation in Lakeside is very important. I will work with private industry and community groups to improve rural transportation options, particularly for those facing income barriers. While the NDP has made steady progress to increase access to counselling services in rural Manitoba, more needs to be done. I will work hard to continue this work.
Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba Candidate - Ralph Eichler
Answer 1. I live in the Constituency of Lakeside which is very diverse. I have several friends and acquaintances, and some family members as well, who live with different kinds of challenges, be it physical, mental or intellectual. When I consider my constituency as a whole, I see these numbers growing in relation to an aging population, but we also have a consistent number of challenged children entering and navigating the school system. I understand as well that many people have invisible disabilities that for the most part can remain undetected by the average person.
Answer 2. Lakeside has limited resources compared to Manitoba cities. That is a fact of country living. However, our greatest resource is the people that live here. I am happy to say that there are a number of people in my constituency who are succeeding in various areas of life despite their challenges. Some are community leaders, some belong to non-profit organizations, some contribute to community life through volunteerism, and many are part of the workforce. Many challenged children are included in community and sport groups. On the other hand, some tend to be socially isolated and parents are often understandably stressed. Various supports are needed to enable all people living with challenges to live a fulfilling life. We all need to partner together to chip away at the remaining barriers to inclusion and participation.
The source of challenges, whether birth-related or acquired due to injury or disease, is irrelevant when considering what supports are required to help people live full, productive, inclusive lives. I believe that the first step is to recognize and respect individuals’ abilities and desires. I believe that everyone has the right to have their abilities, their choices and their dignity respected.
I’d like to point out at least three areas where a Progressive Conservative government has demonstrated a commitment to address the basic challenges that our citizens face. They didn’t need an election to shame them into confronting these issues. They didn’t make false promises for years leading up to the elections. They took the initiative after listening to the grassroots frontline people and the people they serve.
In the early 1990’s, the Honorable Bonnie Mitchelson, Minister of Family Services, established a working group to look at ways to improve supports to adults living with an intellectual disability. The result was the innovative organization called “In the Company of Friends” which today builds on interdependence and natural community supports.
In 1996 the PC government developed and enacted the Vulnerable Persons Living with a Disability Act (VPA) which replaced the Mental Health Act. The Act promotes and protects the rights of adults living with an intellectual disability who need assistance to meet their daily needs. It reflects the right of all people to make their own decisions and have help, where necessary, in a manner that respects their independence, privacy and dignity.
In addition, in 1998, after two years of comprehensive study which invited input from all stakeholders, including parents and educators, the Honorable Jim McCrae of the PC government produced a final report called The 1999 Manitoba Special Education Review which made broad recommendations for changes in policy, accountability, and funding. With a change in government in 1999, the Conservatives did not get the chance to allow educational partners to react and suggest improvements.
For the past 16 years there has developed a deficit of planning and resources for people with disabilities in Manitoba. For example, some people are still forced to pay less than minimum wage to their caregivers because of wage disparities. There are many issues surrounding accessibility, employment, wait times, wages, incomes and standards and I am fully aware of the wisdom to address disability issues before they get to a crisis situation. I am proud to be a part of a PC Party that has a proven track record in its service to our vulnerable citizens. I am looking forward to participating in a government that has promised to protect frontline services and the workers who provide them. When we partner together, we are all more likely to succeed.