Another Way I support March of Dimes

Diane Spindel and Andria Spindel

The photo was taken over 9 years ago; my mother passed away on December 25th, 2007. She and I were very close and I still miss her, and most especially when I am with my young adult children and think about all the pleasure they give me, and how much I want to share it with their grandmother. It has caused me to reflect on the many things I want to share, some of which is incorporated in this article I wrote a few years ago. The article was shared with our donors and will be part of our Legacy Newsletter this month. I am sharing it here as another way to bring my mother and her journey into my memory.

“My own mother became disabled when I was only five years old. Perhaps that, more than anything else, has helped me personally understand, in a most profound way, the importance of individuals maintaining their dignity and independence, no matter what the disability. It’s a core value that instructs our every decision here at March of Dimes Canada. This childhood experience deeply impacted my life choices. At age 34, having just started working at March of Dimes Canada, I took the unusual step at that time of making a Planned Gift to 4 charities through the purchase of a life insurance policy, designating the charities as beneficiaries. I understood that it was an inexpensive way for a young person like myself to make a significant difference, to give back in a meaningful way, even though it would only materialize decades later. For me, making a Planned Gift was also a way to honour several of the most important pillars of my life, to formalize these commitments: community, international development, Jewish life, and the inclusion of people with disabilities. It has been my privilege to work at March of Dimes Canada for almost 35 years. While I could not have known at 34, when I purchased my policy, that it would be such a long relationship, I did already know that working with and for people with disabilities was my calling.

Making a Planned Gift to March of Dimes Canada made so much sense to me. During my time here, I have seen the life transformations that come from the services our organization provides to people of all ages and stages of disability. I have met with thousands of people whose lives we have touched, helped to establish programs that address their needs, and seen how advocacy enables change. I have worked with a remarkable team at March of Dimes and know their commitment is a major contributor to the success of the services we provide to the community we serve. I believe in the future of March of Dimes Canada, in the future of an inclusive society and in the benefits of planning now to ensure tomorrow’s important work — and hope that others share these values.

If you have not yet done so, I would encourage everyone to check with a financial advisor to learn more about the benefits of a Planned Gift. In doing so, it’s my sincere hope that you will consider including March of Dimes Canada in your plans. Based on my personal experience, I’m convinced that you will find Planned Giving to be a most rewarding decision.”

Remembering a Friend or Loved One

Reuters/REUTERS - A woman places a poppy on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier following the Remembrance Day ceremony at the National War Memorial in Ottawa November 11, 2013. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

Reuters/REUTERS – A woman places a poppy on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier following the Remembrance Day ceremony at the National War Memorial in Ottawa November 11, 2013. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

It’s the time of year, as Remembrance Day approaches, that many Canadians think back on lost or injured loved ones who fought for Canada in the last great War, or more recently in the war against terrorism in Afghanistan, or in a number of support missions that engaged Canadian troops. What mostly comes up for me is the recollection that my father shared about his service in Canada’s air force during WWII, while stationed in England. He only once spoke of the horrors, saying he had held a friend who was hit by an enemy attack over England and died in his arms, but my father was part of the service and support, not one who flew in a fighter craft. My father, like so many of his generation,  preferred this his daughters never know of the real horrors of war, and that peace would be our lot in life, and the world would never again witness such trauma and destruction as war, especially the war that eliminated 6,000,000 Jews, as well as dealt death to people with disabilities, to Roma, to gays and lesbians and to other minorities that got in the way of Hitler’s vision of an Aryan race dominated world.

That wish, for perfect peace, has never been fulfilled.  Much of the world has experienced various horrors related to wars, but events of the past week have awakened Canadians to what could be, what must never be, a war at home.

We were all aghast at the murder of two Canadian soldiers in two separate terror attacks, shocked by the senseless violence, by the probable association with an ideology that attempts to trump all others, as did Nazism, Communism, Fascism. We are all afraid to speak of it, afraid of being labelled, but that does not improve anything. An ideology is not a person or a people, it is a belief system and in this case, one that is attempting to impose its will on other people, and to eliminate those who disagree. But I write not to debate any religion, belief system, political ideology, but to point out the humanity of individual Canadians and how that binds us.

As the shots rang out in Ottawa, one of the five people that ran towards the Canadian War Memorial to assist the fallen soldier, Corporal Nathan Cirillo, was Barbara Winters, a former Canadian naval reservist who had served as a medical assistant, and now a lawyer in the government, who recounted her story on CBC radio. Not only did Ms Winters and the others perform CPR and other procedures in an attempt to save Corporal Cirillo’s life, but she did a most heroic, kind and caring act. She began telling him how much he was  loved and how proud everyone was of him.

“I kept telling him repeatedly that he was loved, that he was a brave man,” said Winters through tears. “I said look at what you were doing — you were guarding the dead. You were standing at the cenotaph. I said we’re all so proud of you, your parents are so proud of you, I said your family loves you, everybody here that’s working on you loves you.”

This selfless, simple act, was so profound, so deeply felt, so amazing. Her spontaneous response, to speak of love, brought me to tears just listening to the newscast. I heard Barbara Winters, in tears herself, recounting what came to her mind and why she did this. She spoke of two things: sharing such a message of love when she sat by the bedside of one of her beloved parents, even knowing the person was already in a coma, she still sent messages of love, believing she was heard, and secondly, she spoke of her conviction that everyone is loved, by someone or even many people. Love, is a message that one should take unto one’s death. She did not want our innocent Canadian soldier to feel alone, to feel only his pain, to die without being reassured of his being loved.
Of course, we have come to know how very much Corporal Cirillo was loved, and of the love he has earned from across the spectrum of Canadians, young and old, coast to coast.

So, now think, have you reminded all the people in your life how much you love them? Are you remembering friends, family, fallen or forgotten allies whom you love or loved? Sometimes, we have to give ourselves the love we might not have received, that we can attribute to someone who maybe did not know how to show it, be it a parent, a child, a spouse. As Barbara Winters said, no one should be without love and no one should die lonely, alienated, feeling unloved.

As we approach Remembrance Day, may we all find peace and love, and think of our Canadian troops who sacrifice all for the security of our country, for peace in the world, and so that we may freely express our love for one another.

From My Window—I See Canada

photo 3The view from Emmashill Cottage in Woody Point, Newfoundland (where I spent the past week) is as dramatic as a Lawren Harris painting. Harris has always been my favourite of the Group of Seven. The mountains of Gros Moran National Park (really mountain roots I’ve learned) are like living, breathing creatures, gigantic sleeping dogs. They appear solid, warm, protective. Unlike the majestic Rockies of my childhood (I grew up in Alberta), they tell a different story, and harbour a unique Canadian people. No cowboys or ranchers here.

 

Newfoundlanders are hearty survivors, most from small towns and villages like Woody Point, Norris Point, Trout River, Rocky Harbour or the many now extinct out ports which they recall with pain after being forced to relocate by government fiat. Here is how resettlement is explained in Wikipedia:

 

photo 2Resettlement in Newfoundland and Labrador terms was an organized approach to centralize the population into growth areas. Three attempts of resettlement were initiated by the Government between 1954 and 1975 which resulted in the abandonment of 300 communities and nearly 30,000 people moved. Government’s attempt of resettlement has been viewed as one of the most controversial government programs of the post-Confederation Newfoundland and Labrador.

 

People moved, bag and baggage, even towing their small colourful wooden homes across a bay to a new location. Their hearts, their memories, their buried loved ones were left behind. But the sturdy folk of Newfoundland and Labrador carried their heritage, and continued to create art, music, and a culture of humour, warmth and humility. They kept alive the happy and the sad memories in songs which I heard everywhere throughout a Summer music week festival.

 

photo 4I’ve experienced Canada from the tip of the West Coast, traveling to Victoria and Prince Rupert, BC, to the East coast in Charlottetown, PEI, and to the North where I lived and worked in Igloolik, NWT (now Nunavat) for a year. I have travelled the entire TCH (TransCanada Highway), including now on the island of Newfoundland, and its remarkable what binds us as Canadians. It the friendliness and good cheer, the acceptance of diversity and change while still honouring the historic and our early British, French and native peoples’ heritages that laid the foundation for our values and culture. Many people have had “travail” and experienced loss of some magnitude, but it seems to have made us stronger. Hopefully we are bonded by a love of this country—its vastness, openness, hardiness, and its challenges.

 

Canada still has to do much more to create equity for all people, to provide better health, security and opportunity for our aboriginal people, and to incorporate at all levels of society those who have disabilities, but it’s a country that has such opportunities, values and humanity, that this is all possible.

 

Let’s all celebrate our good fortune that we live in Canada.

What is a Skate Horse?

Andria on skate horse (1)Ever wondered how an adult would learn to skate, especially a non athletic type? Or how a new immigrant to Canada from a warm climate might feel on skates? Or what of the person who developed a fear of falling after a crash on the ice, or the fear and lack of balance for someone post stroke or with some physical disability?

I imagine that most people assume an individual with a disability is simply not going to skate, and either there are other easier physical pursuits or precautionary positions, ie don’t take a risk because you can hurt yourself! Indeed, falling on the ice is not fun after about age 10 when one is out of a cushy bum warming snowsuit.

Well, should those among us who want to learn to skate, but are afraid, or a young child with mild Cerebral Palsy, give up all thoughts of skating or, should one consider using a device developed specifically to give confidence and balance on the ice? Imagine what it might mean to a small child to hold onto a safe and secure device, and still slide easily on the ice, enjoying a familiar Canadian past time, joining with family and friends, giggling with delight and being assured of no miserable mishaps. I guess if Paralympians can add artificial limbs that look like skis and blind skiers can have personal guides, a young child can fairly use a Skate Horse, and participate fully in the simple recreational activity.

DSC_0213 (1)Developed by DesignAbility Coordinator, Elaine Darling of  March of Dimes Canada, the Skate Horse testing was completed last year and this year over 20 have been acquired by the City of Toronto Recreation Department and on March 10, 2014, MARCH OF DIMES DAY,  it was launched. This simple tubular device, light weight and durable, with adjustable seat and handle bars, acts like a sliding walker, allowing the user to hold fast, sit back and rest when necessary, maintain equalibrium with one’s legs. and to stop on ice easily without hitting ground.  The device is available in two sizes for now, and can be adjusted, and in the photos below you can see the enormous thrill and delight on Lilly Sonnefeld’s face as she heads around the ice rink at Leaside Memorial Arena with two skate companions. Yours truly tested an adult size Skate Horse and found it to be great fun, and possibly  a way to keep skating in my own older years, as I have never been all that good at it.

I donned my trusty but rusty grade 9 skates, and enthusiastically called out every head office employee to celebrate the launch of the Skate Horse, as well as the annual March of Dimes campaign. We headed over to the gorgeous, newly opened accessible arena in our neighborhood. How great our Neighborhood rink has a ramped entrance to the ice, accessible change rooms, washrooms and viewing area, giving us another excuse to party!

While not that many employees ventured onto the ice, those who did experienced a new way to celebrate our annual staff campaign in support of March of a Dimes. All, viewers and skaters, enjoyed hit chocolate and treats supplied by a local business. All, watched with enthusiasm as four youngsters from our Conductive Education program took the adventurous challenge to don skates and ride the Skate Horse. All succeeded, standing tall, gliding easily, comfortable and secure on the newest device to emanate from our creative volunteer DesignAbility program. Congratulations to Lilly, Jack, Keenan and Jaiden. Thanks to staff and volunteers and to parents who out their trust in a March of Dimes. A thrill for all.

 

Winter’s Inaccessible Sidewalks

photo 1

“Snow-weary Ontarians woke up to another winter blast Tuesday, which likely pushed Toronto’s total snowfall level beyond what the region saw all last winter.” Toronto Star, February 18, 2014

Shoveling snow—again! Its no longer about shoveling every day, but now several times a day as the  white powder continues to blanket the greater part of Southern and all of Northern Ontario. The city of Toronto, and probably most municipalities, require residents to clean off their sidewalks, and for personal safety, everyone should have clean steps and walkways. If you have a driveway, it can become a very onerous task, but not shoveling may mean the car remains blanketed and boxed in for a few days.

Why do I care to comment on snow and shoveling? Its not about lamenting the long winter, but about my concern for those who can’t physically shovel their own property, about people who mistakenly do and injure themselves, and about people like me who buy a house with steps and driveways they figure they can manage, before considering that it’s a challenge as one ages and one’s body begins to respond poorly to such challenges. I deserve a rousing criticism for purchasing a home with 13 steps to the front door, a retainer wall too high to throw snow over, and a driveway with no side yard into which to toss the fluffy white stuff.  So, my workouts this winter have been frequent and my arms are getting stronger while my back screams stop!!

Here are some solutions I am gathering, some from friends, from radio and from experience:

  1. Ask your young adult son to shovel.  My response: Ever experience overpriced help?
  2. Hire a neighbor’s kid. My response:  What if the closest neighbors have kids under 10?
  3. Lay down a foundation of salt. My response: Have you seen what salt does to the garden and the wooden steps?
  4. Install sidewalk heaters. My response: Before or after you spend money to rebuild the steps and walks?
  5. Hire a snow removal contractor. My response:  What if you need a shovel not a front end loader?
  6. Ask your healthy neighbor or her husband. My response: Do I plead decrepitude this year or next?
  7. Sell the house and move. My response: Am I really ready for the condo market, or can I hold out yet for a few years?

photo 2I think it’s imperative that everyone who can clean their shared sidewalks, do their utmost to keep them snow and ice free, for the safety of all—small kids, frail elderly,  or people with  disabilities, as well as those pushing or pulling carts, strollers, suitcases etc. But it might be a great service to check with your neighbors who are struggling to clean off their own property, and could use a hand..or should I say, a strong back, to move the season’s umpteenth snowfall to create passage from their home.  I can’t thank my neighbors enough for having cleared my walk recently and here is the photo of what I faced when returning home from a business trip. Beautiful but daunting.

photo 3

The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee

Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal

The QueenI am one of 60,000 Canadians to be honoured this year with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for service to Canada. Over 2000 Ontarians were presented with their medals at a ceremony on June 18th at the Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto, followed by fabulous entertainment by some of Canada’s greatest performers.

The celebration of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee featured video clips about our Queen and her life story, a story of more than 60 years of dedicated service. The Queen actually began volunteering at the age of 14. “The 14-year-old princess, showing her calm and firm personality, told Britain’s children in a radio address that ‘in the end, all will be well for God will care for us and give us victory and peace.’ Appointed Colonel-in-Chief of the Grenadier Guards by her father, Elizabeth made her first public appearance inspecting the troops in 1942. She also began to accompany her parents on official visits within Great Britain. In 1945, Elizabeth joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service to help in the war effort. She trained side-by-side with other British women to be an expert driver and mechanic. While her volunteer work only lasted a few months, it offered Elizabeth a glimpse into a different, non-royal world.”

The Queen who is 86 years old,  continues to serve with grace and gracefulness. Queen Elizabeth handles roughly 430 engagements each year from www.thevancouverrealestate.ca and supports more than 600 charitable organizations and programs. She is only the second British Monarch to celebrate 60 years, the first being Queen Victoria. Queen Elizabeth is famous for many things, but one statement she made years ago stood out at the celebration. On her coronation she said, “I declare before you all that my whole life, whether it be long or short, shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.”

The evening was hosted by Lt Governor David C. Onley and Her Excellency, Ruth Ann Onley and special guests were The Governor General, David Johnson and his wife, Her Excellency, Sharon Johnson. The emcee for the evening was Peter Mansbridge and there were magnificent performances by celebrities such as Ben Heppner, Molly Johnson, Gordon Lightfoot, and Susan Aglukark , a short talk by Marc and Craig Keilburger on the values of volunteering and taking action to end injustices, as well as musical performances by a military band made up of representatives of all the services, and a Children’s Choir which sang the Vice Regal salute, as well as a native group which provided drum music, song and dance.

Andria and CommanderI was presented my medal by Rex Harrington, a star of the National Ballet Company, who also received a medal. He was attended by a Commander from the armed forces who actually pinned on the medal as shown in the attached photo. I felt quite privileged to be among the “cast” of Canadians who were acknowledged, but even more privileged to be able to continue to serve as President of March of Dimes.

One Humanity

It has been my desire to write regularly and build a community of interest in my writing and in March of Dimes Canada. I don’t mind admitting that this is harder than I thought. Not because writing is hard for me, but because narrowing down a topic to what I consider of universal interest is challenging, and because it is tempting to just write about all the wonderful things that March of Dimes does, in providing services to people, in advocacy, in communication about  the needs and aspirations of people with disabilities. I write when I am moved by something that to me is big, like the Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAGs) we set for our organization. “BHAG” is a concept from the book, Built to Last by James Collins and Jerry Porras, which served as an inspiration to March of Dimes’ management a decade ago. Now we, senior management, are reading Collins’ latest, Great by Choice, in anticipation of preparing our next five year strategic plan. We benefit a great deal from reading management studies and from looking at the environment around us, the research on consumers and on business innovation,  as well as in the not for profit sector and from our personal experience. In a future blog I will talk about various aspects of the development of our Strategic Plan.

What is “big” for me now and which I think must find its way into our multifaceted five year plan are both evidence-based practice and love of humanity. I think both drive this organization forward, and since most readers might not want to read research data in a blog, I am going to focus on the latter here and share a link to  a BBC video circulating on youtube  that came to me from an 80 year old friend. This must be shared.  I am pasting it here  and inviting all readers to view it and share  your comments, and pass this link on to your friends, family, and associates.   http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=2HiUMlOz4UQ&vq=large

While there are many excellent, National Geographic-like photo perfect moments that are on youtube if you have not seen this video I hope that seeing it now will move you,  or  if you have another favourite that also expresses our shared humanity, please also share it.  I provide this one because we so need to remember that all of humanity belongs to one family! Whether of different races, religions, biological genders or gender orientations, whether able-bodied or physically challenged, whether on this continent or another, the word “human” applies to all of us. How then do people make war, threaten each other, bully on school grounds, intimidate with words, discriminate with actions? It should be incomprehensible to all of us that  people in far away lands are battling for their right of free expression, or to vote, or the right to live a safe and secure life. It should be unfathomable that people live without pure water, that people with mental illness on this continent are living on the streets, and that in Northern Canada that there are people without sufficient affordable and safe housing. All of these unmentionables contribute to disability, to soul destroying limitations on life.

So, look at this video and imagine that  though humans struggle to survive in many regions of the world, the struggle is all of ours. We can be enriched by the actions of others and we can contribute to the fabric of humanity by our own creative, loving action. Imagine a more perfect world, where every human interaction is one of  kindness, where learning and love are abundant, where war abates and peace surrounds us. Imagine a world where there is more than sustenance for some and plenty for others. Imagine a world where life is valued by every culture and creed. Imagine that we can each “repair the world” with our deeds today, and ensure the future for your kids and mine tomorrow.

If I sound like a child of the 60s, it is because I am, but as a non profit “corporate” executive today, my feelings remain true to that era which is described in the statement below, and I hope that some of that idealism is  yet achievable, grounded as I am now in pragmatism after six decades of experience. Here is who we were in the 60’s according to one essayist on the web (author unknown):

“Teenagers were living dangerously and breaking away from the ideals that their parents held. In the process they created their own society (Burns 1990). They were young and had the nerve to believe that they could change the world. Their leaders had lofty goals as well. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had dreams of a truly equal America. John F. Kennedy dreamed of a young vigorous nation that would put a man on the moon. The youth wanted to live in a state of love, peace, and freedom (Gitlin 1987).”

We can still dream of change, of equality, of love, peace and freedom. We need only do nothing and the world will remain the same.

What might each of us give up?

What are we willing to give up, in order to have a safer community,  to make improvements in the lives of others less fortunate, or to ensure clean drinking water for years to come, or  maybe to ensure our cultural values as Canadians remain entrenched or enshrined? These are some of the questions Canadians might ask  because everything is not affordable or achievable with a tick of a ballot. Having just voted federally and with  an Ontario election in the offing this year, do people really think that a vote will bring about all the solutions? My contention is that no one party has all the answers, and no one party is all right or all wrong. We are all, citizens and residents alike, building a society. Everyone’s contribution counts, and sometimes it means giving up something in order to get something. On a societal scale, it might be time to consider what we really need or want and how much we will “give up” to get it, rather than how hard we will demand it.

At March of Dimes Canada we value all manifestations of accessibility for people with disabilities and equitable opportunity. We place value on  people, regardless of their individual abilities. It sometimes means we have to rethink how things are to be done to ensure access, choosing only physical locations that do not have barriers, revamping material to be more accessible for  some readers, being very courteous to assist others, giving people more time to complete a task, redesigning activities for those less physically capable. Our work always includes asking questions about how things might be done by someone with a disability. Thus we were involved in the Toronto municipal elections last year when the City tested voting machines that enable people with disabilities to place a vote independently. We provided an accessible polling station and material to help educate first time voters on the process.

Thinking through our priorities as individuals, as communities, as a total society is essential. Can we come to recognizable commonalities of purpose and a vision of our society? None of us have all the answers so I recommend taking the time to discuss questions with all of one’s colleagues, family, friends about what one wants and what one will give up to achieve it. For March of Dimes it is somewhat simple. We want people to create inclusiveness and that sometimes means changing plans, going slowly, listening differently, making accommodations. However, it always means valuing all people, seeing the “ability” and not the “disability.”

Vote Monday, May 2nd–Others are Dying To

We have more than a unique opportunity to influence the future of  our country and the welfare of its people. We have a responsibility to do so, and in some countries, there is a penalty if one does not vote. In other countries there is a total farce when it comes to voting, and in not just a few countries the whole experience of voting is fought with fraud, deception  and the illusion of democracy.  So, as imperfect as our system of government may be, as tired as you might be from too many federal elections in too few years, do get up, get out and vote!

Neither I personally nor March of Dimes will advise on which party you should support or which individual to favour. It is only important in the life of a free country, that citizens cherish their freedom and exercise their vote. No people’s freedom came without a struggle and only vigilance, participation and a commitment to this freedom, will keep us free. An informed ,  active voter is one who can honestly claim to be defending our liberty.  We take too much forgranted, but when you look at the struggles of the hundreds of thousands, even millions in Asia, Africa and the Middle East who are not only fighting, but are dying for their belief in freedom, their right to democracy, their desire to Vote, one has to think carefully as to why one would not vote. Is it cynicism, ignorance or just laziness? None is a good excuse.

What issues matter to you? Some party or candidate is talking about those issues. What values do you want to see upheld? At least one party will identify with your values. What future do you want for this country, your family, yourself?  Thoughtful questioning  will lead you to the person or party with a shared vision. No one is perfect. No party has al lthe answers and in my view, no party is all worthy or all wrong. The great thing about this great society, is that the diverse views all matter and the parties do share a lot. I remain very influenced by Dalton Camp, former head of the Conservative party of Canada, who spoke at an academic meeting I attended on social policy over 30 years ago. He said, ” The closer one gets to power in Canada, the more the parties are the same.” I really do believe that. I think any party elected knows it has to serve all the people, not just the segment from which it drew the most votes.  All the parties have to work within the strictures of existing laws and institutions so can’ t always deliver on their platforms. It might take years before they can change things they perceive to improve life in Canada, but in the meantime, they will learn what works, what doesn’t and maybe even come to new conclusions. It is ever  thus. I have seen Liberals with significant social justice agendas, bring in conservative fiscal policies, Conservatives with  reductionist fiscal agendas, spend more than prior Liberal regimes on government expansion. No party is all red, blue or green.

All our rights were hard won. Defend them. Women did not always have the vote.People with disabilities did not always have legal protection.  Figure out what is important to you and take a stand for it. Count your blessings on May 2nd, and then VOTE.

For an analysis on the caregiver commitments of the 3 major parties, see MODC website at

http://www.marchofdimes.ca/EN/advocacy/2011elections/Pages/ElectionPlatforms.aspx

Canada 2011 – election, democracy and disability

The federal election campaigning is well underway and all parties are jockeying for position with the Canadian electorate. Most Canadians will see the current national environment as rather “ho hum” with one pundit stating the only issue seems to be whether or not you are in favour of their being an election.

Democracy cannot be taken lightly so it is in everyone’s interest to participate and be informed. People are literally dying in North Africa and the Middle East for the right to have a democracy and a free vote. Some of us forget that our forebears also fought and died for democracy. It is a fragile state of affairs at the best of times and fraught with problems most of the time. But it is, in my view, better than most alternatives.

Voting in and of itself does not make for a democracy. Remember that well informed and educated people have voted in communism, fascism, statism, socialism, imperialism, colonialism, and supported sexism, racism, and other manifestations of barbarism (my term.) So, being an informed electorate is work. Being an engaged citizen is work. Being involved in the democratic process, such that one supports an open, equitable system for all citizens, does require one to be informed and engaged. That all citizens don’t have equal access to information, to services, to the polls is a concern of March of Dimes Canada.

We want to hear about issues that affect our most vulnerable citizens, people with disabilities, frail elderly people, those living below the poverty line (which is over % of people with disabilities.) Here are some of the positive measures that were announced in the federal budget that failed to get approval in the federal parliament:

  • Family tax credit of $2,000 to commence 2012
  • Medical expense tax credit to be increased
  • Top up of GIS for low income seniors

Are these policies that you support? What other policies would you like to see in the next budget? What are the policies that you would ask the candidates to address. Staff at March of Dimes will sort through your comments and share the feedback and over the next few weeks we will elaborate on issues that we think are of prime importance to our constituency.