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Petition to Implement a National Assistance Program for Canadians with Disabilities

This petition had 1,653 supporters

Dear Prime Minister Trudeau,

My name is Alexander Peeler; I am 23 years old and have Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a life threatening disorder that slowly weakens my muscles over time, leaving me in a wheelchair. I am writing you today to discuss an issue that is very important to me and to millions of other Canadians living with disabilities.

According to Statistics Canada, as of 2012 there are approximately 4 million Canadians, aged 15 years or older, living with disabilities.[1] Each of these individuals, no matter where they live or the nature of their disability, shares one thing in common: they require the appropriate services and equipment to help them live fulfilling lives. Unfortunately, the current system whereby the provinces and territories provide these items has failed hundreds of thousands of people across the country, [2] myself included.

One of the main reasons for the failure of this system is that each province has a different means of providing this equipment and these services. Furthermore, not all provinces can afford, or are willing, to provide these services to individuals living with disabilities. My home province of Nova Scotia, for example, does not provide any funding for assistive devices such as power wheelchairs, which can cost over $30,000,[3] or wheelchair accessible vans, which can cost up to $50,000,[4] and provides very little funding for services for persons with disabilities.

As a result, many individuals and their families are forced to find alternative means to purchase important medical equipment, which they cannot live without as it is their only means of mobility and independence. My family and I have experienced this first hand, relying on our insurance, various charities and extensive fundraising to help us afford such equipment. This is a very humbling initiative that we have had to take many times. As of writing this letter, I am in need of another $9,000 to purchase a new wheelchair to replace my current chair, which is more than six years old, and nearly $50,000 to afford a new wheelchair accessible van to replace our current van, which we do not expect to survive the winter. We have even started an unsuccessful GoFundMe campaign to raise money for a new van. More recently, close friends of ours were forced to take out an expensive loan in order to afford a much needed wheelchair accessible van. It is for this reason that I am asking you to implement a new system in which the Government of Canada works closely with the provinces and territories to help provide these services to the millions of Canadians currently living with disabilities.

Canada is obligated to do more for the disabled community. Persons with disabilities should not be excluded because they cannot afford the necessary equipment. Our country values equality and the right to life and liberty as outlined in sections 7 and 12 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.[5] Furthermore, we have international obligations to uphold. We were one of the first countries to sign and ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).[6] Under the treaty Canada is tasked with implementing the laws of the convention into our national system.  This includes Article 19, which states that persons with disabilities must have access to a range of in-home and community support services; as well as Article 20, which states that persons with disabilities must have access to mobility aids, devices and assistive technologies at an affordable cost.[7] As you can clearly see, under the both the Charter and the CRPD, Canada is required to provide more support to the disabled community, an obligation that I am confident your government will uphold.


Alexander Peeler

[1] Statistics Canada, 2012.
[2] Krogh, 2005.
[3] Ward, 2009.
[4] AMS Vans Inc, 2015.
[5] Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, 1982.
[6] Collin, 2012.
[7] United Nations, 2006.

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