(I am writing this not only as a concerned citizen, but also as someone whom this issue impacts personally; on a direct, daily and on-going basis. Although I can only speak on my own personal experience here, I must stress that I am NOT the only one who faces this problem - there are other Canadians, Ontarians and Kingstonians who need and would appreciate the support.)
Thank you; Know that your support would positively impact - or even save! - many lives; Including my own! There is an Accessible Housing Crisis which desperately needs to be appropriately addressed, as well as Building Codes which are in urgent need of updating.
The Government currently claims that funding for this issue is set to be released over the next 3 to 5 years; Although this is great and I have faith that those claims will be followed through, this is both a long-term and immediate concern and the current 3-5 year wait means that those (including myself) who face this issue in current time are dismissed; This is discriminatory, unfair and NOT okay! (There is also a lack of clarification on how much each city will receive) ...
So, through this petition, I am asking for the Canadian Government to address the immediate portion; WE NEED ACTION NOW! because - without the appropriate changes - many lives (including my own) are put at daily risk and - without swift action - Myself and many others will end up homeless or will be put into a hospital facility.
Hospital living is hardly fair, nor dignified.
This "solution" will only further diminish an already deminished quality of life & it would also put an avoidable further strain on our already-straining Healthcare System! Why not try to avoid such a strain where we can? - and we can, with enough combined effort.
I am aging, my care-giver is aging, the population is aging; and we have nowhere to go. Currently, I am a 22-year-old who currently lives with her aging Single-Father. I have no other family who are able to assist and although my Father - thankfully - does his best, this situation is a concern for both of us.
At this point, my father has health concerns of his own which make caring for me a challenge & regardless, I simply cannot nor will not be able to rely on him forever...You see, as much as the wonderful organizations like the Community Care Access Centre (CCAC) and Independent Living Centre want to help us find suitable places, those places just simply don't exist.
What little is out there is nearly impossible to afford, and/or is the furthest thing from "safe and accessible" even if it's always listed as such. Not to mention the Housing Waitlists themselves; which have a basic timeline of 8-10 years, at best. So, as a result, people are being forced out onto the street or pushed into hospitals - neither of which is hardly fair or dignified - and because of such a push, there is also further strain on an already struggling healthcare system.
(Sidenote: The issue with renovating my current home is that I live in an apartment, so I require landlord permission; which isn't being given. I've lived here for 5+ years with my father, and this is still an issue. There have been no improvements.)
In regard to the aspect of cost; affordability is another big concern as many (myself included!) rely on ODSP and recieve less than $1000. I currently live in the cheapest apartment complex in this city and rent is still a few hundred over my total income. I split rent costs with my Father at the moment, but I won't be able to rely on him forever. So - I also encourage looking into any possible way to come up with some sort of payment plan and/or make the spaces into a geared-to-income situation or something of this sort.
Existing spaces are either affordable or accessible or not; It's one or the other, never both. We urgently need both. All of this needs to change - quickly! Beyond ODSP, financial support is out there, yes; But I (and many others) are generally either just above or just under qualification requirements.
It's the little things that truly do make a world of difference. All it takes is willingness and commitment to cooperation, and just a few extra minutes more of consideration during the planning and/or construction process. Please. It's a matter of a few simple, little design changes.
"Problem Areas" within homes consistantly continue to be the bathroom and the kitchen. With the current building codes, a space is listed as "Accessible" once there is an elevator and once you are able to enter the Lobby: This is not enough! And so, again, with this petition I also ask for such codes & standards to be updated, as well.
Accessibility doesn't stop at simply being able to get into the door of a building, no (which I cannot even do, with my arrangements, may I add) - Not only do we need to be able to get in, but, we also need to be able to function once we're in there. Basic functionality includes things like slightly wider doorways, lowered locks and counters and cupboards, flat-top stoves, walk-in showers and a levelled floor plan (so, open-concept spaces without stairs; or at least some sort of lift...)
Personal Support Workers (PSW's) do exist, yes; but, I must stress that they are not a possibility for everyone. Scheduling conflicts and certain policies (and again, of course, funding cuts) prevent those (including myself) who live in certain conditions and tight living spaces from effectively utilizing (or sometimes even merely qualifying for!) their services.
For myself - who currently weighs less than 100lbs - I need a minor amount of lifting to get in and out of my bathtub; but certain policies prevent the PSW's from being allowed to lift me - So, we need assistive equipment to get the job done; but I live in a tiny apartment with no room for such equipment, so, that leaves us stuck in limbo. This is a big problem that only needs little solutions - but no one, currently, is willing or able to help.
(Sidenote): How independant is it, even, to still need to rely on a carer? - It's not. And we wouldn't need to if we were only permitted to have more functional spaces. Within my current space, I cannot cook for myself or bathe or even enter/exit the building, due to inaccessibility where everything is out of reach. It is also a fire hazard and I've already had a fire scare. It's an all-around wellness and safety issue. All of this puts my health and safety at daily, continuous risk.
My father and I have been stuck here and going around in circles trying with to get assistance and be heard on this issue for 5+ years. All anyone ever seems to do is play phone-tag or say "I don't know".
Over the years I have contacted and tried to work with Home Base Housing, CCAC, Independent Living...I've contacted everyone from Sophie Kiwala to the Premier and even Trudeau. They all keep saying (if they respond at all) is that there's nothing they can do, no available resources, and/or that this is not within their level of power. My father has also gotten the same answers, during his attempts.
But, again, I am unfortunately not the only one who faces this problem; There are other Kingstonians, Ontarians and Canadians who face this issue, too - All of us would appreciate some consideration, so, thank you. This is a very urgent and important issue that has (personally) been a 5-year struggle & counting; so I will not stop writing or trying or raising awareness until somebody (respectfully) hears me out and until something is actively done to completely resolve it.
To Our Canadian Government and all of you, I ask: Please consider. We need support from people like you. This issue is on-going here and will NOT go away without efforts. It'll continue to grow as funding and healthcare cuts increase, and as people continue to sicken or even just naturally age - someday it may even impact a loved one of yours; if not yourself. So, this is important and we all want, need and deserve to have a safe and a great quality of life.
To all those who have read this and those who sign & share: I thank you for your time. Please know your support matters very much, and is eternally appreciated! Thank you. Take care.
Heaven Smith (Kingston)