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.”

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.