Pubdate: Sat, 28 Mar 2015
Source: Tribune, The (CN ON)
Copyright: 2015, Osprey Media Group Inc.
Author: Linda Crabtree
Page: C2


Birthdays still excite me. Even though I'm heading for 73, I look 
forward to the day when I can say I've survived yet another year with 
this frustrating neuromuscular disease I've coped with all my life.

Someone once suggested people with disabilities were a "special 
interest group." As you get older, you often join that group. It's called life.

We are all, if we're lucky, part of that group of people often 
disabled and growing older.

And don't think we seniors don't notice what is going on out there.

We are the ones who read newspapers, watch the news on TV and listen 
to local talk radio.

We also volunteer to make things better. And I'm one of the ones who 
talk about things I don't like. Here are a few:

What happened to all the marijuana-growing companies that were 
supposed to be springing up everywhere to boost the economy and help 
people who need relief from pain and other debilitating illnesses?

Out of 1,200 applications, Health Canada has licensed 23 across the 
entire country - 15 for production and eight for cultivation only.

What happened to the long-term care law that was supposed to provide 
better care for the 78,000-plus residents in nursing homes in Ontario?

Inspections have been made, but not one home has been fined for 
non-compliance. Try living in one of those homes for a month or two 
and you'll soon figure out there isn't enough of anything, including 
sprinkler systems.

If there's a fire and you're living on the second floor in a 
wheelchair, chances are you're a goner. And we feed our convicted 
criminals better.

And there's the Ontario e-Health program to get all the medical 
facilities online so my GP will know what my respirologist has 
prescribed and the hospital can, at a glance, see what my conditions 
are and what I'm taking for them.

After the billion-dollar fiasco in 2009, what is being done to correct it?

I hope it is being restructured. Its website says it is, but my GP is 
still hauling huge files around.

What happened to the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities 
Act, a.k.a. AODA?

Our province is supposed to be accessible to people with disabilities 
by 2025. We're six years into it and a cool 60% of the businesses 
with 20 or more employees haven't bought into the law. Most likely 
don't even know or care it exists.

Ontario's 1.8 million people with disabilities shop, and we need 
jobs. We need an accessible environment. The government is planning 
to cut back on AODA enforcement.

But there's one bright light here: After lobbying for two years, the 
AODA Alliance chaired by David Lepofsky had the government set up a 
toll-free hotline to report any disability law violations.

Stick with it until you reach the office of the Accessibility 
Directorate of Ontario, located at the Economic Development Ministry. 
Phone 1-866-5152025; TTY for those who are deaf: 1-800-268-7095. 
There's no guarantee anything will be done, but we have to speak up 
or we'll get what we deserve.

And here's one close to home.

Not only were some local street corners with directional buttons 
controlling street lights not cleared of snow, but now that the snow 
is receding shopping carts are dumped at intersections where I live, 
like a corral for blue ponies.

The last time I looked at the corner of Louth and Benfield near the 
plaza on Fourth Ave., there were seven. How are we expected to get to 
the button through a craze of metal carts, push the button and then 
back up in time to cross the road?

We can't. And Walmart, please send someone out to round up carts on a 
daily basis. They are a very real barrier to people using 
wheelchairs, scooters and those who are visually impaired, plus 
people pushing baby strollers.

Being an eternal optimist, I'm looking forward to medical marijuana 
being readily available at a reasonable price; safe, healthier 
long-term care homes; medical records online and accessible schools, 
streets, shops and homes.

I am warmed by the thought that things have improved during the past 
73 years. But we still have a long way to go.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom