Spring greetings from the Family Advocacy Network of Manitoba (FAN),
It is sincerely hoped that your faith celebrations and traditional events this time of year will be enjoyed with your loved ones. FAN hopes goodness and love is at the heart of them all.
Your constituents have been experiencing the pandemic for over a year now. Many community residents, including our loved ones with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), have adapted to life with limited visits and fewer activities. Despite this being incredibly challenging, parents, direct support staff and educators have taken the necessary precautions and have worked extremely hard helping loved ones understand and follow the practices to reduce exposure to Covid-19. Members of FAN, like all Canadians, are looking forward to the vaccines intended to alter the course of the Coronavirus and end the pandemic.
New research suggests that intellectual disability is the greatest risk factor, other than old age, associated with Covid-19 deaths. Jonathan Gleason, chief quality officer at Jefferson Health in Philadelphia and lead author of the research published recently in the New England Journal of Medicine Catalyst indicated in the study that increased risk to our loved ones could be related to the inability of people with IDD to socially distance, wear masks or follow practices to reduce exposure. This is a realization that health care communities have not fully appreciated. FAN, as advocates for people in this population, is thankful that our lived ones in Manitoba will soon, if not already, have access to Covid-19 vaccines.
Individuals in this population are more prone to other health conditions that put them at risk. Bill C-7, “medical assistance in dying” (MAiD) is deeply troubling for families and self-advocates because of the removal of reasonably foreseeable death criterion and the loosening of other safeguards. MPs who voted against Bill C-7 we thank you for your support. Those MPs who voted to pass Bill C-7 must know that families and advocates are worried, scared, feel let down and disappointed. Citizens of Manitoba should never experience discrimination and Bill C-7 is one more reason for families to lose heart. A person’s life should not be defined by one’s diagnosis, disability or one’s situation in life, for each of us possesses an intrinsic value. Behind every loved one with an IDD there is a strong family who stands by them and loves them with all their heart.
The pandemic has shined a spotlight on the needs of adults and also on children. Parents have found that the lack of respite workers and educational assistants, and the absence of other educational provisions has negatively affected and distressed many students. It is known that many children with IDD and/or a physical disability are less likely to manage learning in a technology- heavy world while for others technology will have an important impact on learning. In spite of their lives often being overwhelmed, many parents and teachers have come forth with new and creative ideas. Families expressed that being heard at meetings with the Department of Education is welcomed and appreciated.
In “springing” forward as in the current review of the Manitoba Vulnerable Persons Act (VPA) FAN is thankful for the joint efforts to improve assisted decision making and other positive efforts like less restrictive optionsother than guardianship. The rapport with the Department of Families and meeting with the Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Immigration gives FAN families hope. Developing collaboration with the Departments of Justice and Health as well as other departments is most wanted. FAN looks forward to when we can meet with MLAs and share concerns faced by families in your ridings. Members of the Family Advocacy Network thank you for your service.
FAN is – Hope – Unity – Grassroots – Support – HUGS.