On the eve of the election, on behalf of the Quebec Association for the Leisure of Persons with Disabilities (AQLPH) and the Network of Regional Recreation Authorities for Persons with Disabilities (IRLPH), I would like to seek to elect you future officials who are aware of the reality are that people with disabilities experience.
Here are some issues related to access to recreation that I would like to draw your attention to:
Do you have an opinion to share? A text between 300 and 600 words that you would like to send us?
Day camps, variable geometry access
For young people with disabilities, access to a day camp is essential not only for their development but also for the quality of life of their families. What we take for granted is anything but certain! There are many problems with access to day camps: funding of services, staff qualifications, discrimination, labor shortages.
Of course, there’s the Quebec Ministry of Education’s (MEQ) Leisure Time Financial Assistance Program (PAFLPH)! And it offers assistance that supports leisure activities. The problem is that in recent years the allocated sums have been announced a few days before the camps start or sometimes even after the end of the season, which, as you will understand, poses a major problem for the sustainability of the services. Why not provide these amounts at registration in March each year? This solution seems so natural and so simple to us.
In addition, while the need for support increases each year, only 35% of applications are funded and the number of candidates for these positions is declining. Result: Inclusion in day camps is becoming increasingly difficult, while Quebec boasts of being more and more inclusive and underfunding does not allow to improve companions’ salary conditions, which could certainly attract new candidates.
Participation in a leisure activity is only possible if you can get there. This principle may seem trivial, but for a person living with a disability it can be a real headache. Currently, the crisis in the paratransit sector is drastically limiting access to recreation.
Many cities now only offer paratransit for getting to work, school or doctor’s appointments, while other municipalities no longer offer any trips at all. The lack of adapted drivers and vehicles, administrative burden and loss of profitability of taxis are just some of the factors related to transportation problems.
What we propose as solutions: an increase in funds and concrete measures that will allow, among other things, to increase the number of adapted vehicles in taxi fleets and improve accessibility to public transport.
Just like access to transport, physical accessibility to leisure infrastructure is another issue that concerns us.
Today, playgrounds, parks, gymnasiums, libraries, theaters or community centers are still being built that are not barrier-free. It can certainly be complex to adapt existing infrastructures, but when it comes to new projects, more effort is required. We believe that solving this problem will require more comprehensive regulations, more training for project promoters and builders and closer monitoring of construction projects.
Spending free time is a way to express yourself, thrive, and even contribute to society in other ways. Recreation allows the culture of a society to develop and is also an economic and social vector.
Ladies and gentlemen, who will be elected this Monday, October 3rd, will you respond to these arguments? And most importantly, will you work to make Quebec a truly inclusive society?
Geneviève Bergeron, Executive Director of AQLPH and representative of the IRLPH network