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This article was published 11/9/2018 (672 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Two young adults with major disabilities were discriminated against when they "aged out" of the school system and lost access to supports and services, a Manitoba Human Rights Commission investigator’s report says.
Tyson Sylvester and Amy Hampton — and others their age with physical disabilities — benefit from a suite of supports that foster their social inclusion and allow them to pursue an education. That stops when they’re adults.
A 42-page investigation report made public on Tuesday — which includes interviews with the complainants, their families, service providers and government department heads — says Sylvester, 22, and Hampton, 24, have been discriminated against on the basis of age and disability without reasonable cause.
The findings put pressure on the province to address a long-standing complaint about Manitobans with physical disabilities losing services, support and social inclusion when they finish high school.
Now, it’s up to Manitoba Health and the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority — which originally dismissed the complaint as "vexatious and frivolous" — to mediate a resolution or take part in an adversarial public hearing.
"We now have the opportunity to sit down and have non-adversarial conversations about where we go from here and how to address the gap in services for adults with physical disabilities," said Joëlle Pastora Sala of the Public Interest Law Centre, who is representing Sylvester and Hampton.
"We don’t know if the province will accept mediation," she said on Tuesday after a news conference announcing the commission report.
The province is expected to decide by late September.
"I really encourage the government to sit down with us in mediation," said Sylvester, who locked himself in a cage in Old Market Square this summer to show what it is like to be "locked out of life" after aging out of the school system.
The outgoing young man with cerebral palsy, who is blind, lost most of his services and support and now is isolated in a personal care home.
"I really want things to go well," said Sylvester, an IT aficionado who dreams of attending Red River College. "I just want them to see that we are all the same, and that we can all do great things.
"I hope that for me, next September, it will be me going to school, because we all have dreams. I want to live a meaningful life to the best of my abilities."
Hampton, 24, has cerebral palsy and spastic quadriplegia. She is non-verbal and communicates with facial gestures, sounds and signs. She uses a wheelchair or a walker, and needs help with all aspects of daily living.
The art and music lover is living at home with her parents and thrives on socializing with friends, but lost most of her services after high school.
"It’s important that no Manitoban is left behind," said David Kron, executive director of the Cerebral Palsy Association of Manitoba. The group organized Tuesday’s news conference at the Millennium Library.
"It’s time for us to remove those barriers that are systemic," Kron said. "It’s not always more money or more bureaucracy" that’s the answer.
Updating the rules would help, he said, pointing to home-care services — which can only be provided to a client at a home.
"If you’re a working individual with CP (cerebral palsy) or muscular dystrophy, your home-care worker technically is not allowed to come to the workplace and take care of you," he said. "How is that fair?"
Kron said providing sufficient services and supports so people, such as Sylvester and Hampton, can take part in life is not too much to ask. "It’s less than one per cent of folks this would affect in Manitoba."
Carol Sanders’ reporting on newcomers to Canada has made international headlines, earned national recognition but most importantly it’s shared the local stories of the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home.
Updated on Wednesday, September 12, 2018 at 6:43 AM CDT: Final
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