CDA Consultations: National Youth Forum
Alex Peeler wrote for us about his petition for a National Assistance Program for Persons with Disabilities. This was shortly before he was heading to Ottawa to participate in the National Youth Forum for the CDA consultation process. Here he recounts his experience:
I applied for the National Youth Forum in August after hearing about the consultations for the Canadians with Disabilities Act (CDA) through Muscular Dystrophy Canada. I decided to apply because I have always been an active advocate for persons with disabilities and saw this as an opportunity to put my passion for advocacy to good use. Then, in early October, I received an email from the Minister of Sport and Disability, Carla Qualtrough, saying that I had been chosen to participate in the consultations. I was very excited and proceeded to make the necessary arrangements for my trip to Ottawa.
We flew to Ottawa on the afternoon of November 1st and arrived at our hotel later that day. There were no issues getting on the plane in Halifax; however, the Eagle lift [transfers a person to their seat on an aircraft from their wheelchair] could not fit on the plane in Ottawa, which led to a few minor challenges. The next day we were shuttled to Carleton University for the Forum, along with approximately 150 other delegates and their support staff. After hearing the opening remarks from Minister Carla Qualtrough and others, we were divided into smaller groups for a series of breakout sessions. We discussed how to remove barriers to accessibility and how to increase leadership opportunities for youth with disabilities. Conversations ranged from accessibility in terms of communication, transportation, access to equipment and services, and education. After lunch, there was a keynote presentation by Muscular Dystrophy Canada National Ambassador Luca “Lazy Legs” Patuelli and a surprise visit from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. I was lucky enough to tell him about my petition and to get a picture with him! See the video of my question with the Prime Minister’s answer at the bottom of this post.
The next day we flew home without a hitch and landed in Halifax later that evening. I am proud to have had the opportunity to participate in the National Youth Forum and I am glad that our government is committed to making our country more accessible for everyone. I think everyone should take part in the CDA consultation process because not only will it have a significant impact in the lives of people with disabilities, but it is also necessary to show our leaders that accessibility is an important issue to us all.
There is still time to participate in the consultations, as Minister Qualtrough will be hosting a consultation in Halifax on December 9 at Pier 21. Other in-person consultations are taking place across the country. Click here for more information on how to get involved in the CDA consultations.
Alex is a 24 year-old Nova Scotian living with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. He spends much of his time volunteering and advocating for persons with disabilities, and he never says no to a challenge.
During the Youth Forum I had the chance to ask Prime Minister Trudeau about implementing a National Assistance Program for Canadians with Disabilities. Thank you to Valda Eddy Walsh for recording my question and Mr. Trudeau’s response. For those of you who still wish to sign the petition, which is at 451 signatures, you can do so here http://bit.ly/2dtoT4U
Posted by Alex Peeler on Thursday, 3 November 2016