What did I learn for 2022?
By Donna J. Jodhan
As I sit here writing this particular editorial, the first words that come to my mind are these: “Same old! Same old!” And I am very sure that there are many out there who will readily agree with me.
For this editorial, I am going to concentrate on the professional side of things. Specifically, what I learned and probably should have learned a long time ago. However, as a so-called optimist, I tried to ignore my previous and long time lessons choosing instead to hope that some things would start to change but alas! They continue to persist!
So it’s time for me to get down to business and to tell you what I learned for 2022 warning you that these lessons are not anything really new.
First off; I continued to learn that there are several Federal Government departments who continue to ignore the sobering fact that they need to start paying consultants with disabilities the going rate for their services instead of either underpaying them or not at all. Instead, they blatantly prefer to view them as volunteers. On the other hand however, there were a very few departments who broke with tradition and started to recognize the expertise and lived experiences of consultants with disabilities.
Those who fell into the first category continued to use their so-called advisory groups as a means to get around not paying for consultancy services from persons with disabilities. It is not too difficult to identify these culprits. I commend the Auditor General Office of Canada, the Canadian Transportation Security Agency, and Elections Canada for breaking with tradition and for their recognition of the consultancy services of persons with disabilities.
I can only urge those who fell into the first category to please stop using the excuse that you do not have the budget to pay for these types of services. These excuses do not hold any water and they are simply old hat excuses. If you do not have the budget then find a way to obtain it and pleas stop persisting in taking advantage of the every day Canadian with a disability.
Second, we come to those universities who continued to blatantly put out calls for persons with disabilities to help them with their research projects. I was embarrassed each time I read any of these posts and circulations and you know what? These higher institutions of learning had the nerve to state in their emails that they were seeking voluntary help. I found this to be shameful and frankly downright insulting.
I can only humbly and respectfully state that these entities need to understand and recognize that ours is a very unusual type of knowledge and expertise that is only achieved through lived experience. So, please change the way you do business with Canadians with Disabilities! No more offering of gift certificates to Tim Horton’s or Starbucks! Take a long hard look at how you interact with Canadians with disabilities! For after all! Researchers and external consultants working at universities are paid for their services so why not consultants with disabilities?
The online complaints systems for several of the Federal Government departments continued to languish as they remained woefully inaccessible, unusable, and extremely difficult to navigate. Above all and due to a lack of resources internally and externally, the complaints system remain horribly inadequate and ineffective because there is no evidence of timeliness and respondents know this only too well.
Respondents continued to use this glaring hole in the system to frustrate the complaints of persons with disabilities deliberately going out of their way to be heavy handed, disrespectful, and downright condescending. Above all, they continued to use their deep financial pockets and highly paid high powered lawyers as a means to thwart the efforts of the every day Canadian with a disability.
Sadly enough, certain Federal Government departments continued to be either unable to do anything about it or to not want to do anything about it. I can only urge the Federal Government to please step in and to start walking the talk.
For whereas I commend the Federal Government for finally appointing the long awaited Chief Accessibility Officer and the Accessibility Commissioner, I humbly advise that these two appointees ensure that they engage fully with the every day Canadian with a disability. We all need to remember that it was the hard work of various communities of persons with disabilities that resulted in the culmination of the Accessible Canada Act and I still hope that one day sooner than later that the Federal Government recognizes this.
Unfortunately; the attitude barriers continued to persist for 2022 and the Ontario Government was one of those entities persisting with this trend. Not doing very much to increase and open opportunities professionally and socially to Ontarians with disabilities. I humbly state that using the excuse that Covid related expenses had to be met was a poor reason.
I also continued to learn that organizations for persons with disabilities did not improve very much if at all when it came to really meeting the needs and requirements of their clients. Instead they chose to feather their own needs; this being to keep receiving financial help from various levels of Government instead of standing up for their clients.
I could go on and on but I’ll stop here hoping that you got the picture! In short, not much has changed and the biggest lesson for me is that one would only engage if it benefits them. I saw this a lot in my dealings with some companies and it was a very difficult pill for me to swallow. Hopefully I have learned enough here so that I can be more watchful moving forward.
Just my two cents for today
Image = Photo of a road at the end of which is a sunrise. Marked on the road is an arrow pointing to the sunrise with the year 2022 on either side of it.
To learn more about me as an award winning sight loss coach and advocate visit www.donnajodhan.com