Sunday, August 10, 2008

If You Are Disabled No Canadian Citizenship For You

image According to the Mail Online, the Chapans were forced to return to Wokingham, Berkshire, Britain after spending just 18 days in the land of maple syrup, the maple leaf and lacrosse. It seems that immigration Canada took issue with their daughter Lucy, who has Angelman syndrome.

It seems that the Canadian government is concerned that she will be a burden upon our medical system, however after some research on Angelman which I had never heard of before, it seems that these individuals  function well within society.  The following is from the Aneglman Syndrome Foundation.

Young adults with AS are usually socially adept and respond to most personal cues and interactions.  Because of their interest in people, they establish rewarding friendships and communicate a broad repertoire of feelings and sentiments, enriching their relationship to families and friends. They participate in group activities, household chores and in the activities and responsibilities of daily living.  Like others, they enjoy most recreational activities such as TV, sports, going to the beach, etc.  There is a wide range however in the developmental outcome so that not all individuals with AS attain the above noted skills.  A few will be more impaired in terms of their mental retardation and lack of attention, and this seems especially the case in those with difficult to control seizures or those with extremely pronounced ataxia and movement problems.

Fortunately, most children with AS do not have these severe problems, but even for the less impaired child, inattentiveness and hyperactivity during early childhood often give the impression that profound functional impairment is the only outcome possible.  However, with a secure home and consistent behavioural intervention and stimulation, the AS child begins to overcome these problems and developmental progress occurs.

Even if at this time she were to need access to healthcare which the family denies, her ability to participate in Canadian society does not seem to be an issue for the future.  I think that the problem is that Canada wants bodies that will either add wealth to the country, or are bodies that can be exploited for cheap labour, with minimal investment. Lucy fits none of the aforementioned categories.

She is not a doctor that will be forced to drive a cab because her education is not recognized.  She is not an engineer who will labor as a dishwasher because of prejudice...Yes, most employers want Canadian experience but if you are a new immigrant getting into the field that you have been trained in can be extremely difficult.

It is further problematic to assume that a disabled body does not contribute to society.  Simply because they may not work in fields that we recognize as socially valuable does not mean that the people that they interact with daily are not improved from the association. To limit entrance into Canada in this way is discrimination against people that negotiate disabilities.  We claim to care about the disabled in this country and yet the monthly disability stipend is 900 dollars a month, as I have mentioned in previous posts the average rent in Ontario for a one bedroom apartment in Ontario is 800 dollars per month. This means that if you happen to have a disability in this country unless you can find a way to augment the meagre monthly stipend you are destined for a life of poverty. Yes all of this bounty in Canada the good.  This is yet another example of the ways in which we privilege a social construction (money) over what is truly valuable humanity.


troubleinchina said...

I hadn't heard about this Renee.


We are having such difficulties here at the moment - the access to financial aid for disabilities is apparently provincial, not federal. So, in Alberta (land of such acceptance that it is) we'd be getting financial aid every month to help us make ends meet. Here in Nova Scotia, Don doesn't qualify for any form of financial assistance because I make more than 600$ a month. Our one room flat was 615$.

And Don can't work. Right now, Lucy is a child, but as you say there's a good chance she'd be able to get a job and support herself when she was an adult.

There is so little here for PWD. Now that I'm going to school and thus not making more than 600$ an hour, we don't qualify for any form of government aid at all.

Go us, I guess

~ Anna

Chat Blanc (aka Sandy) said...

Shocking!! I'm so disappointed to hear such things happening to people with disabilities. I would have thought even governments would be more informed by now. Sad.

jessilikewhoa said...

wow, its like canada has been getting ideas from our oh so exemplary and in no way at all problematic US healthcare system. canada doesnt want people with chronic illnesses/disabilities to come in their country and burden the healthcare system, the US doesn't want people with chronic illnesses/disabilities to be able to get private health insurance as it would burden the poor corporate insurance provider who makes ginormous profits.

if perhaps someone could direct me toward the proper space where i should sit and wait to die without using up any precious resources, i could cease getting angry every time i read something like this, or experience it myself.

Vasyl said...

I agree completely with our government on this New Zealand even refuses fat people entry in their country. Immigration policy clearly states that only people that can contribute to society are eligible for legal immigrant status. It already takes hours to get to see a doctor in ER if we start accepting people with genetic defects and/or mental and physical handicaps it will become even worse.
I myself immigrated from Ukraine and I had to go through extensive health examination and my family was clearly told that if we fail, visas will be refused.

Vasyl said...

Also I have nothing against handicapped or disabled people, all I am saying is the immigration policies are in place for a reason and since they hasn't been challenged or changed in a while, Canadians do agree with them, so why one child should change a policy that 35 million people agree with.
There are already a lot of problems with people sneaking in from US to get free health care by using false documents (it's even mentioned in latest Michael Moores movie, which sucked but did mention a reality we face every day), so imagine accepting everyone that has an illness or handicap. Health care is the biggest expense of our government and it barely covers everything. I work in a hospital and the budget issues affect everyone in public health care system.

Also, lets forget everything about expenses, let's look at it from a moral point of view. If the government authorizes that family to stay, what will prevent people with terminal illnesses from coming and using the system to live a little longer, if one kind of sickness or handicap is allowed it will be discrimination to refuse something else.

Anyways I don't want to appear insensitive or right winged maniac but there is a reason for that policy.