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?

Candidate Responses

Manitoba Liberal Party Candidate - Inez Vystrcil-Spence

Answer 1: I think there is another word for disability. I personally do not have a dis-ability, nor does anyone in my family. However, how dis-ability has affected me is in my role as an advocate and social worker representing First Nation people for over 20 years, particularly children. I have a colleague who I worked with years ago who is blind and who worked on issues affecting First Nations. What I recall her concerns were are accessibility, accommodation, and services. She had a guide dog but in her experience she often felt she was being passed around where not one agency would step up and help to accommodate. Rather, it seemed to her, most agencies found reasons not to help. I learned a lot about how people generally perceive those with disabilities, and that the lack of understanding about certain conditions and stigma to being able challenged made people uncomfortable and with that discomfort, although not intentional, ending up with people excluding other people. I learned that education, awareness, acceptance and coming together of people with different life experiences helped to facilitate relationship building. With better understanding we break down barriers.

Another more obvious matter that has come to the attention of the nation is related to First Nation children who are discriminated against. The recent human rights case validated claims that agencies and advocates have been making for decades. This is one frustration in the system for children, that it takes millions of dollars and thousands of hours to make the case to prove the problem and this is only the first step. Finding solutions and figuring out the ways to break down the barriers is the next challenging step. With Jordan’s Principle, there is still no significant policy decision by Canada or Manitoba to expedite resolution to circumvent the jurisdictional challenges. Bureaucracy, red tape and extensive negotiations result in slow progress and to date, no legislative amendment or change has occurred that could fill the gaps that allow discrimination to continue. Again, its like legislators and funders look for reasons not to act rather than acting on behalf of the most vulnerable. I have witnessed this since 1993 and it continues.

Answer 2: In Thompson and surrounding communities, there are distinct challenges. Within Thompson I would say it is about conditions of roads, sidewalks, lack of wheelchair accessible spaces for residence. It is also about opportunities for employment. I think there have been advances but being more remote from the major urban centres, and major advocacy organizations and associations, we rely more heavily on a smaller resource pool to support those impacted by various disability whether it is genetic or by incident, or whether physical or mental, or whatever the reason or cause for disability, we always struggle more in the north.

For First Nations people it is a matter of responsibility or rather lack of. Levels of government provide only the most basic of service and leave more specific and complex needs to another party. Some costs are prohibitive, for example, the needs of some children can run up into the thousands daily and weekly and with ambiguous mandates, limited budgets, and lack of accountability mechanisms to enforce action, its easier and convenient to pass the buck than to find a way and go beyond the limits. I always think, I don’t think society would have that much of an issue helping the most vulnerable in our society so why are we placing these limits in our systems – like who’s demanding that we don’t help the disabled and children and elderly and so on. I believe in creating every opportunity for everyone to be a part of society, to be protected from discrimination, to be included in work, play and leisure. We all share this world together, and its important to make our life journey rewarding and positive. I have a lot more to say on my experience and observations about specific cases over the years, but I think generally these are my thoughts.

New Democratic Party Candidate - Steve Ashton

Answer 1. I believe that disability issues affect every family in Manitoba, either directly or indirectly. My family has been impacted in terms of vision impairment and mobility issues.

Answer 2. Physical accessibility is a big challenge for communities in our area. As well, training and on-the-job accommodation of employees needs significant work. I will work with all levels of government, employers and community groups to ensure that the supports families need are in place.

Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba Candidate - Kelly Bindle

No response received