MICHAEL LE CLAIR
When Pharaoh wanted to harass the Israelite slaves he told them to make bricks without straw. The expression “make bricks without straw” means to command getting a task done without appropriate resources.
Premier Robert Ghiz has told Islanders with disabilities to get their supports with less money, making their already difficult lives, more intolerable – in a sense, to make bricks without straw.
The Provincial Disability Support Program was already under funded when the new government came to power. Of 22,000 Islanders with disabilities, only 1,100 could access supports for assistive devices like wheelchairs, hearing aids or walkers.
The new government promised real change for Islanders with disabilities but set up one of its numerous committees to study the problem. Most people believe these committees are a stall tactic. The disability committee proved to be worse than most. It showed a disregard for people with disabilities. It appears to be little more than a patronage opportunity for well connected Liberal consultants.
When the parents of autistic children won their Human Rights case last June, the government said it would add $900,000 to cover the new costs.
After that, the government announced a few months ago that it was increasing monthly allowances for the 1,100 clients by $1,200 a year. Even if all the DSP clients don’t get the new money, this change will cost the government more than $1 million annually to meet that promise.
So did the government increase the DSP budget? No, it reduced it by $35,000, over what was spent last year. This is hard to figure out. I know in our family budget, if it isn’t in the budget, we can’t spend the money. I think this is the purpose of a budget, if I am not mistaken. So where will the money come from to pay for the monthly allowance increase and the additional $900,000 for the care of disabled children.
When the Disability Services Review Committee makes its report this summer, where will the money come from to implement the changes that should be the result of the services review? The Sherry Report to the Legislature last week encouraged the government to examine the expected report with due diligence.
Islanders with disabilities are being abused by a government insensitive to the real needs of disabled Islanders. This government continues to take advantage of spousal care givers, and does not show the least interest in recognizing the situation family care givers face. We are being told to make bricks without straw.
In closing, I recommend the government and, in particular, Premier Ghiz and his minister, read through chapter 15 of Exodus to find out what happens to arrogant kings. The wisdom of this story is still very much relevant today.
Michael LeClair for P.E.I. Disability Alert