By Victor Schwartzman
October 21, 2013
Halloween looms over us. In fact, it has been looming since late August, when bags of Halloween candy first appeared in stores. However, as of this writing (mid-October, before Halloween) it is already being crowded out by the Christmas section (which began showing up in September.)
Following these commercial trends, I plan to celebrate my 80th birthday when I am 70, so I can get all those presents NOW.
Be that as it may, Halloween and AODA: have a holiday and the implementation of a law ever matched so perfectly? Both are scary. Both are reminders of how hopes can haunt us. But they match mostly because with AODA the Government played on the community a reverse trick or treat.
The community came to the Government’s door and asked for the treat of the AODA access legislation being created and enforced, and instead got the Government’s trick of a law only on paper.
AODA is hardly the first “trick” a Government has played on advocates, although this time the Ontario Government has really earned a gold star for its work. With all this in mind, and an exciting build up, surely you can wait no longer for the
Top Ten List of Halloween/AODA Tricks and Treats Played On People With Disabilities
10. More tv shows and documentaries on disability issues. Maybe it’s good for people who have disabilities to be presented for an audience’s amusement. Viewers can learn a lot while they also say OMG! Okay, perhaps this does not seem like a “treat”, but obviously you have already forgotten the “trick” part.
9. Handi Transit shows up early. Instead of waiting, starting Halloween people with disabilities get their paid-for transit rides showing up early. That is the treat. The trick is that the van waits one minute and then takes off without asking if you are ready. While this follows a pattern from all year, only on Halloween will the van show up early before leaving.
8. You get a job! What a great treat, to land a job, especially with Christmas coming. Yes, the job is a three month grant, but you are sure the work will be extended once the grant is over. No, you are dumped no matter how well you did so the employer can hire someone else on another short term grant. You are unemployed again, at Christmas time. By now you can see this list may not turn out so well for you.
7. You are a resident of a long term care institution and get free sleeping pills. This is a great treat if you have been awake a lot. It is especially a treat for the staff. There is a bit of a trick, though: the pills are actually anti-psychotic medications. The good news is that when you start the pills you are not psychotic. The bad news we’ll leave for when you can think clearly enough to realize what has happened.
6. Doctors focus on your quality of life. Usually doctors focus on your “numbers” and medicate accordingly, having difficulty acknowledging negative side effects because the meds are saving your life (that’s understandable, but ask a nurse for the truth.) However, visit before Halloween and your doctor will ask you how you really feel and what would make your life better! That will be your Halloween treat! (The trick comes after you answer.)
5. People know you for the person you are. You will have a Halloween treat when someone you don’t know asks you what you are interested in rather than what pills you take. Good luck with this one.
4. It is a piece of cake to get into any building you want, get to any floor you want. Changes will be made immediately to steps, stairs, elevators hard to use for the sight impaired, narrow doorways, impossible to use washrooms, closed doors with knobs, signage useless to the sight impaired and other access issues. All will happen for you this Halloween, provided you take a lot of hallucinatory drugs. By the way, when Marie Antoinette said about the starving poor, “Let them eat cake,” she was referring not to pastries but to them scraping the burnt residue from inside the ovens where bread was baked.
3. Treat: politicians deliver on their promises. Hahahahahahahaha hahahahahahahah ahahaha hahahah ahah ha. Seriously…mmmhaaahahaha gag. No really, they will snort snicker hahahaha cough. Okay, getting a promise from a politician is like buying a lottery ticket, the most you realistically can hope for is to enjoy a daydream while you can.
2. Shortages in animal assistants will stop. People wait years for needed animal assistants and may never receive the help they need. In some instances, it is a battle to have an animal recognized as an assistant. To help with this problem and make a step towards reducing the shortage, starting on Halloween the federal government will announce that the Canadian Senate will be abolished and all the Senators reassigned to new positions as animal assistants. While some apartment blocks have previously denied animal assistants, it is hoped that the prestige of the new assistants being former Senators will overcome that barrier. The RCMP has cautioned potential owners that certain Senators must be watched as they go potty in their own backyards and then charge for it.
1. Your disability pension will be changed to reflect what you should be earning. Starting right after Halloween, your cheques will be increased to reflect what you should be earning if access in Ontario had been improved to AODA standards. Whether you would be going out or working at home, your income will now reflect what you would have earned if the Government had lived up to its part of AODA. (Caution: do not take this “treat” to the credit union. It exists for satirical purposes only.)
Perhaps, dear readers, or reader, you may now have realized that all of the Halloween “treats” for people with disabilities are actually “tricks”. Well AODA has been like all that Halloween candy: great at first but you wind up at the dentist! If we have learned anything it is: TAKE CANDY FROM POLITICIANS AND YOU WILL GET A TOOTH ACHE.
Next week: Given the commercial trends, probably the column for next Easter.
First article was the Trick, now here is the Treat.
Community Filing Class Action Law Suit For Lost Income Under AODA
By Victor Schwartzman
Noted Toronto activist attorney Clayton Jewel announced this week at a media conference that he would represent a client in a class action law suit against the Ontario Government. “My client is seeking the earnings she should have had if the Government had implemented AODA as it was required to do.
She wants to work and the failure of AODA meant many lost employment opportunities for her.”
Jewel’s client is Ms. Iva Bene Screwed. She has a disability, muscular dystrophy, which limits her mobility. While working outside the home would pose challenges she could overcome, she can and does easily work at home using her computer. She is an architect and works as a consultant.
AODA was proclaimed in 2005. It was supposed to increase her employment opportunities by eliminating various barriers.
Seated in a wheel chair beside attorney Jewel at the media conference, and talking with occasional pauses as she uses a respirator, Ms. Screwed said “I really believed in AODA and the promises the Government made. I know nothing happens overnight. But after almost ten years I am tired of waiting and angry about what I lost. There could have been so much more I could have done if AODA had been implemented properly.”
Attorney Jewel agreed. “Ms. Screwed contends that if the legislation had been enforced properly,” he told the media conference, “by 2007 at least some new work opportunities would have been made available to her.
She was prepared to compete for those jobs, but first the opportunity to compete had to be made available. The more work she can do, the more she can support herself and pursue her life goals.
If the AODA legislation had been implemented properly, surely within two years of it being proclaimed Ms. Screwed would have had more employment opportunities. Therefore, the Government should compensate her for the income she lost due to the Government’s own incompetence, starting from 2007.”
Several community based organizations which had supported the creation of AODA were present at the media conference, stating they would join in the law suit.
Perhaps ironically, many of the people representing community organizations were named Mr. Screwed or Ms. Screwed, even though none were related.
The Minister responsible for the implementation of AODA, Eric Hoskins, responded to the announcement of the law suit in his own media conference held later the same day.
“We appreciate the concerns expressed regarding the implementation of AODA. Aspects of the implementation appear to have been slow. We are studying the situation. We promised to no longer be slow, if we were slow.
“I can announce that, after three years, we have completed our study of the Beer Report about the implementation of our implementation. We were going to announce our reaction, and speedily, but have decided to wait until the Mayo Report is completed, hopefully years from now.”
Minister Hoskins then told journalists that he was prepared for the law suit by arranging his own law suit. With the help of his aides, Minister Hoskins then put on his law suit. It was made of iron, was red and gold, and had a glowing power source in the chest. Minister Hoskins then fitted a matching helmet over his head and stuck out an iron arm. “I can fire missiles at any of you,” he told the journalists before powering up his boot jets and flying off before they could ask questions.
Next: Minister Hoskins Fights With The Avengers For AODA—In Another Universe
HAHA, this is our Halloween Trick for the Government! Hope it was scared for a minute!
Victor Schwartzman is a retired Human Rights Officer and writer who lives in Vancouver. You can read his graphic novel, The Winnipeg Weakly Herald, which is now being serialized on the great Canadian literature site, www.redfez.net. He also writes a monthly poetry review column for Target Audience Magazine (www.targetaudiencemagazine.com.)