Sask. working on disability strategy to be most inclusive in Canada

Watch the video above: concerns raised over lack of support for people with disabilities

SASKATOON – Over 900 people in Saskatchewan have voiced their concerns about a lack of support for people with disabilities.

The province has been sending a ‘citizen consultation team’ to communities with the goal of becoming Canada’s most inclusive province by 2020.

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Tracy Patterson, who has spent years working to give her son the best possible life, said its’ a target that won’t be easy to reach at the Saskatchewan association for community living (SACL) family conference on Saturday.

“He’s got Down syndrome, we’ve always strived to have him treated like our other kids,” said Patterson, a self-directed funding advocate.

Patterson has been advocating for the province to adopt a ‘self-directed funding’ model for people with disabilities which would give them more freedom.

“The funding from the government, instead of going to an agency, it goes to the individual itself, so the individual can,” said Gloria Mahussier, president of the Saskatchewan Association of Community Living.

“Choose their support worker, choose where they want to live.”

Patterson says the government is finally listening.

“It’s coming and it’s going to be good,” said Patterson.

Organized by the provincial ministry of social services, the 15 member team is travelling around Saskatchewan getting feedback on how to better accommodate people with disabilities.

“Our economy is booming, there’s lots of opportunity out there, and this is our opportunity to revolutionize how we’ve done things before,” said Amy Alsop, with the disability strategy citizens’ consultation team.

One of the biggest issues discussed in the consultations – transportation barriers.

“We have to get ourselves into a system where we can have affordable, accessible transit, and that’s not just limited to para-transit,” said Alsop.

Other major issues that have been discussed by the groups are accessible and supportive housing, employment, education and support for caregivers.

The consultation group plans to release its disability strategy next spring.

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