January 10, 2020
The recent outbreak of COVID-19 has caused mass panic all over the world. Infecting more than 114 countries with 245 000 cases known and increasing 10 000 death toll. In response WHO (world health organization) have stated that the virus is a pandemic, causing governments around the world to take action on stopping the spread. One of said governments is the Government of Canada.
In an effort to reduce the infection and decrease the curve, they have advised canadians to self isolate, work from home and stop bulk buying. In many interviews that have taken place in front of the Trudeau house and other government owned property. Not many refer to those with disabilities.
During the announcements from Justin Trudeau, there is no sign language interpreter and only recently did they add one in government interviews. This caused those who have hearing impairment to lack crucial information. Karen McNell, a legally blind Canadian have expressed her concerns about the lack of information to those who have disabilities, stating "Information in this time of pandemic should be available to everyone.Those of us with disabilities shouldn't have to try to piece information together from a variety of sources."
The government took her concerns and started to implement sign language interpreters to interviews, created media graphics for the visually imparied and plain text communications for intellectual disabilities. It was a step in making this time easier for people with disabilities but it is still not enough. Some disabled people require regular help to maintain their independence and cannot be completely self isolated. The government has yet to address this issue or many other issues concerning people with disabilities.
The TTC has also stated that Wheel Trans will not make trips to hospitals and COVID-19 testing facilities. Many can argue that this is a logical reason but it has left many people with disabilities wondering what to do and Canadians asking ‘what can they do?’
Canadians have started to notice the lack of addressment and support towards those with disabilities. Loblaws and Sobeys have introduced a system where seniors and people with disabilities are dedicated hours to shop, stress free. The executive chairman of Loblaw Companies Limited Galen Weston said “We are prepared for this, and to support those most in need, we are opening some of our stores early with dedicated hours for seniors and people living with disabilities to come before the crowds.” Many other grocery stores like No frills, Freshmart, etc are under Loblaws banner and are expected to integrate this system as well.
In a time of great panic and uncertainty, the government has implemented many resources for the public and made great progress in reducing the spread of the virus. There are still many things left to be addressed for people with disabilities. But the progress made in the span of weeks is a great start. For now canadians can help out by being aware and being sensitive to the risk/ obstacles people with disabilities face in this time of COVID-19.
“Coronavirus Cases:” Worldometer, www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/.Coronavirus Update,
www.ttc.ca/Riding_the_TTC/Safety_and_Security/Coronavirus_update.jsp.McQuigge, Michelle. “Disabled Canadians Feel Excluded from COVID-19 Messaging.” Coronavirus, CTV News, 18 Mar. 2020,
“Coronavirus: Major Canadian Grocers to Offer Special Hours for Seniors to Stock Up.” Global News, Global News, 18 Mar. 2020, globalnews.ca/news/6690439/coronavirus-canadian-grocers-special-hours-for-seniors/.
Pulrang, Andrew. “5 Things To Know About Coronavirus And People With Disabilities.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 8 Mar. 2020, www.forbes.com/sites/andrewpulrang/2020/03/08/5-things-to-know-about-coronavirus-and-people-with-disabilities/#34a43cb31d21.
Ryan, Frances. “Coronavirus Hits Ill and Disabled People Hardest, so Why Is Society Writing Us off? | Frances Ryan.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 11 Mar. 2020, www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/mar/11/coronavirus-ill-disabled-people.
Shannon, Joel. “Coronavirus Has Been Declared a Pandemic: What Does That Mean, and What Took so Long?” USA Today, Gannett Satellite Information Network, 11 Mar. 2020, www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/03/11/coronavirus-pandemic-world-health-organization/5011903002/.