Accessibility encompasses so many facets of life for people with disabilities, their friends and family, colleagues and neighbours.

It's all about Inclusion and Independence.

Caregiver Recognition

Caring is ubiquitous - it will happen to almost everyone
Excerpt from Speech by the Right Honourable, The Baroness Jill Pitkeathley, UK House of Lords

Millions of people around the world provide care and assistance to family members, friends and neighbours who are in need of support due to physical, cognitive or mental health conditions. There is an urgent need for greater recognition and heightened awareness of the diversity of the caregiving experience, understanding of the challenges associated with family/friend caregiving and identification of strategies to bring about change.

In this election, we passionately believe that it is vital to have the newly elected government (after October 10) to announce the intention to build an Ontario Caregiver Strategy that would more fully recognize the role and contributions of caregivers in society, and invite key stakeholders to the policy table to begin formulating a comprehensive Ontario Caregiver Strategy.

Many positive strides have been made over the years, by a succession of governments at Queen's Park. For example, the recently announced Strategy on Aging certainly helps advance the recognition and funding for caregivers, by expanding home and community care. The compassionate employment insurance benefits, both nationally and provincially, represent another good step.

We need to build and expand upon these measures, enhancing caregiver recognition in government policy and legislation.

Ontarians with disabilities and their caregivers require comprehensive support from the publicly funded system.

The United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia and the United States have implemented caregiver recognition polices and laws that far surpass what we have (or don't) in Ontario.

Caregiving in the home can often require costly modifications to allow the individual to live in their community, with dignity and independence.

Home and Vehicle Modifications (HVMP)

What exactly is a home or vehicle modification through HVMP? Simply put, this is funding assistance to individuals to achieve easier and greater access to and within their home and vehicle.

This might mean the installation of a ramp, a wheelchair lift or grab bars in a washroom.

Modifying one's home or vehicle allows that person to stay in their homes and in their community - which greatly contributes to improving one's quality of life

Home and vehicle modifications also help give back some of the independence to that individual with a disability.

Quite often, the alternative would see people going into more costly long-term care facilities.

But the funding needs to be there.

Just last year alone, roughly 49% of those who applied to funding to modify their homes or vehicles had to be turned away. There simply wasn't sufficient funding to meet the demand.

...and what about those individuals with disabilities who require extra supports in their living arrangements?

Supportive Housing with Attendant Care

There needs to be funding for supportive and non-profit housing. In fact, there is a desperate need for the provincial government to take the lead to bring the three levels of government to the table to develop more pro-active and effective approaches to meeting the basic shelter and living needs of people with disabilities.

It's one thing to commit to increased affordable housing. But for many people with disabilities, there needs to be "supportive" housing - with accompanying funding for attendant care needs.