Canadians with long COVID: Sick and, increasingly, worried they’ll go broke – National |

Adriana Patino, 36, has been battling COVID-19 since December 2020.

First, the virus made her very sick, prompting several trips to the ER when her blood-oxygen levels had dropped dangerously low. Then the long-term symptoms set in: palpitations, difficulty breathing, overwhelming fatigue, and concussion-like cognitive issues.

“I have memory issues, it takes me a while to retain information or follow up conversation or I misspell words constantly,” says the North Vancouver-based consultant.

Patino, once a competitive swimmer who represented Canada at the FINA World Aquatics Championship, says she’s been housebound for more than six months. Minor physical or mental exertions lead to debilitating exhaustion or violent headaches. Carrying out her job, she says, is impossible.

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But while Patino says her employer has been very supportive, getting her long-term disability (LTD) insurance claim approved is taking longer than expected. Patino, who has exhausted her short-term Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits, says she was hoping her LTD coverage would kick in around a month after she filed the claim in early April. Instead, the insurance company keeps coming back with new requests for medical records, she says.

In the meantime, Patino says her financial situation is rapidly deteriorating. After raiding her personal savings, she had to borrow from her mother. Her friends raised funds through a GoFundMe account.

But if her workplace benefits don’t come in soon, she says she’ll have to start selling some of her possessions to make ends meet.

“We don’t have anything else to rely on,” she says.

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Millions continue relying on COVID-19 benefits

Millions continue relying on COVID-19 benefits – Mar 15, 2021

More than half of COVID-19 patients might be suffering from long-term symptoms more than 12 weeks after testing positive, according to a new review by the Public Health Agency of Canada. To date, 1.39 million Canadians have contracted the virus and survived, according to official statistics.

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But many of the country’s COVID long-haulers say they’re falling through the cracks of both private workplace insurance benefits and government income supports.

Workplace disability benefits often denied

Only 12 million Canadians have disability insurance, according to the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association. But even those who, like Patino, have coverage, aren’t necessarily able to access the benefits when they suffer from long-term COVID symptoms, also known as long COVID.

The lingering effects of the virus manifest as a bewildering array of symptoms. The common ones include fatigue, difficulty breathing, cognitive problems often described as “brain fog,” cough, muscle pain or headache, sleep problems, cardiac issues and trouble sleeping.

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The pandemic is leaving millions of COVID-19 survivors chronically ill, creating what science magazine Scientific American recently called a “tsunami of disability.”
But long COVID has all the hallmarks of an illness for which it’s difficult to claim workplace disability benefits. What’s causing those often debilitating symptoms doesn’t always show up in diagnostic testing. Patino, for example, says she has undergone a barrage of tests, most of which came back normal. Only a few tests revealed issues with her lungs, blood and heart, she says.

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COVID-19 ‘long-haulers’ describe shakes, trouble breathing weeks after testing positive

COVID-19 ‘long-haulers’ describe shakes, trouble breathing weeks after testing positive – Feb 19, 2021

Also, researchers still have a limited understanding of COVID’s long-term effects and family doctors often don’t recognize the condition. A recent study in the British Journal of General Practice, for example, suggested that general practitioners in England may be grossly under-diagnosing long COVID. Researches found less than 24,000 records of formal diagnoses of long COVID, a number that is nearly 100 times smaller than the two million adults thought to have had long COVID in England.

“It’s an invisible illness, it’s much like … chronic fatigue syndrome, (that is) myalgic encephalomyelitis,” says Susie Goulding, a floral designer based in Oakville, Ont. She’s a COVID long-hauler who founded COVID Long-Haulers Support Group Canada, which has almost 14,000 members.

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Many COVID long-haulers in the group have been denied long-term disability benefits, she says.

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“People are being turned away because they just can’t prove it in black and white on paper that they are as ill as they are saying that they are,” she says.

Because there is still little research around long COVID, it’s easy for insurance companies to dismiss disability claims due to “insufficient medical evidence,” says Nainesh Kotak, a Mississauga, Ont.-based disability and personal injury lawyer, who has recently been retained for a long COVID case.

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“It’s no different than dealing with a chronic fatigue case or even a chronic pain case. What is more difficult, though, is certainly the newness of the impairments,” he says.

It’s important for long COVID sufferers to build medical evidence by relying on their family physician to record their symptoms and provide referrals to specialists as needed, Kotak says.

“The important thing, of course, is to have your physicians as an ally,” he notes.

But that’s often a challenge for long-haulers in Canada, where not everyone has access to a family physician. The head of the Canadian Medical Association recently called on the federal government to boost access to family doctors for long-haulers.

Click to play video: 'The struggles of COVID-19 ‘long-haulers’'

The struggles of COVID-19 ‘long-haulers’

The struggles of COVID-19 ‘long-haulers’ – Oct 20, 2020

In the absence of that, long-haulers should consistently use the same walk-in clinic for appointments, which makes it easier to gather evidence, Kotak says.

But besides providing a full picture of long COVID patient’s symptoms, it’s key that doctors identify how the condition limits the patients’ ability to function in their jobs, he adds.

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Still, it doesn’t help that, unlike the U.K., Canada has yet to establish a clinical definition of long COVID.

And some long-haulers face yet another mystifying obstacle: they can’t prove they ever had COVID-19.

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Many long-haulers who caught the virus in the first wave, when Canada was rationing a limited number of available tests, don’t have a positive COVID-19 test result to show for it, Goulding says. For example, many COVID-19 symptomatic patients weren’t given tests if a family member had already tested positive, she adds.

“They were assumed to have a positive case as well, but then they didn’t get a positive … test, so then they’re left trying to prove themselves,” she says.

In a recent survey of more than 1,000 COVID long-haulers in Canada by Goulding’s COVID Long-Haulers Support Group Canada, Viral Neuro Exploration and Neurological Health Charities Canada, less than 60 per cent of participants said they had received a positive test.

COVID government-benefits safety net not enough for long-haulers

For those who don’t have or can’t access long-term disability benefits, there’s little in the way of a social safety net.

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Chantal Renaud says she began suffering from crippling symptoms, including severe difficulty breathing, tachycardia and profound fatigue in April 2020. When her LTD insurance claim was rejected, she says she accessed EI sickness benefits. But after exhausting the 15-week maximum eligibility period for the program, she says she found herself without any income.

In the end, Renauld says she was forced to sell her house to survive financially.

“I have financially contributed to this country for more than 32 years and I should never have lost my house because I fell ill,” Renaud recently told the House of Commons’ Human Resources committee. “No Canadian should ever have to experience that.”

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Renaud had been called to testify about Bill C-265, a private member’s bill sponsored by Bloc Quebecois MP Claude DeBellefeuille proposing to extend the maximum period for receiving benefits to 50 weeks.

Federal budget legislation recently extended the maximum number of weeks for receiving EI sickness from 15 to 26, but the changes are expected to take effect only in the summer of 2022.

The office of Human Resources Minister Carla Qualtrough did not respond to a question about whether the federal government is considering a further extension of the maximum benefits period.

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“The Government of Canada recognizes that this continues to be a difficult time for many workers in Canada. We will continue to monitor how the labour market rebounds and the needs of Canadians as we move forward on the path to recovery,” Employment and Social Development Canada said via email.

Patino, for her part, says she’s hoping her story helps people and policymakers appreciate the impact of long COVID.

“I want people to take this seriously and I want the government to take us seriously.”

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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‘I was hoping that there will be more empathy’: Kelowna accessible housing proposal opposed

Gary and Joan McEwan have a vision.

“We are trying to make a completely inclusive building,” said Gary. “Because we have lived a life of inaccessibility in our town.”

The Kelowna couple’s 14-year-old son Ben is disabled and has a lot of special needs.

“Ben does not walk … he doesn’t talk, he doesn’t eat orally — he’s fed through a tube,” Gary told Global News. “He has multiple seizures on a daily basis. He has scoliosis.”

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The couple has devoted their life to taking care of Ben but it’s a full-time job.

“You don’t know what it takes out of you as a person,” Joan McEwan said. “It’s hard work and I don’t want to get emotional but it is hard work, it’s tiring.”

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With Ben requiring 24-7 care, the couple has little time for much else, including maintaining a home.

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Nova Scotia woman hopes to address lack of appropriate housing for disabled adults during National AccessAbility Week

Nova Scotia woman hopes to address lack of appropriate housing for disabled adults during National AccessAbility Week – May 27, 2019

They decided a while back they needed to downsize to an apartment to reduce house and yard work in order to have more time for their son, but finding an apartment that is fully wheelchair accessible proved impossible.

“There’s nothing available here in town,” Gary said.

He said with nearly 300 families similar to his living in the health region, the need for a fully accessible building is enormous.

So he’s proposing to build one on a lot he purchased in the Manhattan Point neighbourhood in the north end of downtown.

This is an artist rendering of the five-storey building the McEwans are proposing to build in Kelowna’s Manhattan Point neighbourhood.


“We’ve deleted all of the hurdles such as curbs going out to decks, curbs going to showers, [created] wide hallways … that kind of thing,” he said.

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The proposed housing complex includes a five-storey building with eight units, as well as two townhouses at the front of the building.

It would be situated on a half-acre lot in the 900-block of Manhattan Drive.

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But the project requires the land to be re-zoned to allow for multi-unit housing and an amendment to the Official Community Plan, something many residents oppose.

“It’s so precedent-setting. I think it would definitely set a tone, a signal in the neighbourhood, that others can come in and consolidate and put up lots and apartment blocks,” said area resident Carmen Gray.

The neighbourhood consists of family homes, carriage houses and duplexes.

“It does not fit at all,” said Gray. “Clearly we’re not apartment buildings.”

Gray said a petition against the project has been sent to the city.

“Ninety per cent of the residents in this community — 63 households out of 70 — have said they are opposed. Not because they’re not willing to have more density or change in this neighbourhood, but because they don’t want to put an apartment block and that level of density on the street,” Gray said.

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Gray said other concerns surrounding the project include an already narrow roadway and lack of sidewalks.

Gray said this type of housing belongs on a street with more infrastructure.

“It’s just the wrong location,” Gray said. “You would think … that they would want to put something like this on a street with more infrastructure, sidewalks, busing, even a place for a handicap bus to stop and park.”

The McEwans said they already have four families interested in moving into the building and feel disheartened at the reaction from some of the neighbours.

“You have push-back from a community that you want to live in, you want to live there for the rest of your life,” Joan McEwan said. “I was hoping that there will be more empathy for something like this.”

The proposal will go to a public hearing on Tuesday, July 13 at 4:30 p.m.

Click to play video: 'Kelowna’s Starbright Children’s Development Centre gets new playground thanks to community'

Kelowna’s Starbright Children’s Development Centre gets new playground thanks to community

Kelowna’s Starbright Children’s Development Centre gets new playground thanks to community – May 18, 2021

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Changes to Saskatchewan wildlife regulations make it easier for hunters with mobility impairments

Changes are being made to wildlife regulations in Saskatchewan, giving better access to hunters dealing with mobility impairments using a motorized wheelchair, in an announcement made by the province Monday.

In 2020, Saskatchewan allowed the use of motorized mobility equipment for hunters with disabilities, but required a permit.

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The province dropped the need for a permit on Monday.

“This new legislation provides greater access and less red tape for hunters with mobility impairments,” said Warren Kaeding, Saskatchewan’s environment minister.

“Hunters will be able to take advantage of new technologies in motorized mobility equipment, without the requirement of obtaining a permit to use the equipment.  This is a great example of how a policy can evolve to meet the needs of Saskatchewan residents.”

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Bobbie Cherepuschak tests out the snow blade attachment on his new motorized wheelchair.

Bobbie Cherepuschak tests out the snow blade attachment on his new motorized wheelchair.


It’s something Bobby Cherepuschak, an avid hunter with a mobility impairment, said will have a positive impact on those dealing with similar issues.

“Now anybody with a disability that can’t walk long distances or can’t walk at all, can now hunt out of one of these all-terrain action track chairs,” said Cherepuschak.

“It’s going to be awesome, more people are going to get out and enjoy the outdoors.”

More changes to The Wildlife Regulations Amendment Act, 2021 include:

  • Prohibit the feeding of dangerous animals, to help alleviate increased concerns related to dangerous wildlife in the province.  This includes feeding wildlife on the side of the road.  This prohibition will not apply to the use of bait for hunting or trapping purposes, conducting agricultural activities or operating licensed landfills.
  • Authorize the use of a Hunting, Angling and Trapping Licence (HAL) identification number to identify hunting baits and stands on Crown lands, as an alternative to an individual’s full name and address.
  • Authorize the disposal of inedible or diseased wildlife specimens to simplify the removal of carcasses deemed unfit for human consumption, including specimens infected with chronic wasting disease (CWD).

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Lumsden man hopes rule changes can improve hunting accessibility in Saskatchewan

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Further information regarding The Wildlife Regulations Amendment Act, 2021 can found on Saskatchewan’s website.

Click to play video: '‘Choked me up’: motorized wheelchair takes hunter into bush for the first time'

‘Choked me up’: motorized wheelchair takes hunter into bush for the first time

‘Choked me up’: motorized wheelchair takes hunter into bush for the first time – Feb 14, 2021

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How accessible is Lethbridge for people with disabilities?

May 30 to June 5 marks National AccessAbility Week, which acknowledges and celebrates contributions made by Canadians with disabilities, the removal of barriers to accessibly and inclusion, and the work to oppose discrimination against those with a disability.

Diane Kotkas, director of DaCapo Disability Services with Lethbridge Family Services, said it’s important to see people for who they are and what abilities they have, and not just for their disability.

“Every one of us has challenges in some form or another,” she said.

“Individuals with disabilities are members of our community and should be treated with the same rights and opportunities as any other citizen.”

Kotkas added it’s important to acknowledge the barriers some face, and the ease at which many people are able to navigate the community.

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“As ambulatory individuals, we more often than not take accessibility for granted,” she said. “But for many folks with a disability, accessibility is a daily challenge.”

According to Chris Witkowski, the parks planning manager with the City of Lethbridge, there have been recent improvements in the mobility accessibility around the city.

“(The) last couple years we’ve really put a high-priority on making the city more accessible,” Witkowski said.  “Probably the biggest accomplishment was completing our mobility accessibility master plan, which was completed in summer of 2020.”

Also a member of the Mobility Accessibility working group, Witkowski said the city is always welcoming input from residents and organizations about what improvements can be made.

“I know facilities is always making improvements to the public buildings,” he said. “If you’re walking on intersections, you’ll see new sidewalk ramps, trying to improve accessibility for wheelchair use, strollers, walkers, those with visual impairments.

“For playgrounds, we’ve started to add some playground surfacing, some hard-rubber surfacing to increase wheelchair access in there. Putting a lot more inclusive play pieces into our playgrounds.”

Click to play video: 'Canada’s Week of AccessAbility'

Canada’s Week of AccessAbility

Canada’s Week of AccessAbility

For Bill Brown, who is blind and runs the Lethbridge Association for the Blind, many additions to the city have been positive.

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“City’s done a lot of work in putting ramps at all the corners, and that’s very beneficial to people in wheelchairs, but it certainly helps people who are visually impaired as well.”

However, he does believe some improvements could be made within the city’s transit operations, and hopes the general public is able to become more educated on disabilities.

“It’s amazing how people have difficulty in dealing with someone with a disability, and I think that’s not only blindness but practically every disability,” he admitted.
“People sometimes, when they meet someone who’s blind, they think they have to talk loud, because they’re thinking of deafness.”

According to Witkowski, the recently-approved Capitol Improvement Program includes funding for improvements to accessibility at city facilities and funding for a benchmark study.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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New Brunswick mom says son’s human rights have been violated, hires lawyer – New Brunswick

A New Brunswick mother whose son with disabilities went missing from his school says she is planning to file a formal complaint against the school and the district.

Jacqueline Petricca of Bouctouche, N.B. says she is still shaken up over what happened to her son at Blanche-Bourgeois School last month.

“It was the most terrifying almost two hours of my life,” Petricca said.

Petricca says that even though her 11-year-old son, Anthony — who has ADHD, Tourette syndrome and OCD and may be on the autism spectrum — is a known flight risk, he went missing from school on March 24.

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“I had no idea where he was. I did not know if he has gotten into a car with anybody or what had happened,” she said.

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Anthony was found safe at a nearby business almost two hours after going missing, she says.

Now, the mother has hired a lawyer and is planning to file a formal complaint against the school and the district for not providing proper full-time support for her son.

“If there was a true inclusion program, then my son would not be on a half-accommodated day, just two to three hours,” she said.

According to the mother, a psychologist has told her that since Anthony is not classified as a complex case, all of the supports that are recommended and required are not going to be paid for until he gets that classification. She says she has been waiting for a meeting with the district for months to have her son evaluated.

A representative from the Francophone Sud School District, Ghislaine Arsenault, would not comment on the incident, citing privacy reason, but said in a statement to Global News that “staff members work very hard to ensure student safety and to provide students with an environment that promotes their overall development and well being.”

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Petricca says her son’s full-time educational assistant (EA) support was taken away in February 2019, which she believes was for budgetary reasons.

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Fredericton lawyer and former education minister, Jody Carr, says the school “failed to protect” Anthony when he ran away from the school. He also alleges Anthony was denied his accommodations and failed to provide timely intervention for his disabilities, which Carr says is a violation of the student’s rights.

“Just based on disability, he is being denied a service and he is being denied an education and the human rights act says that no one can be denied an education based on their disability,” said Carr.

Anthony says he wants to return to school full-time.

“I would be willing to even without the EA,” he said.

But his mom says he needs appropriate supports in place before that can happen. Otherwise, she fears he may go missing again.

Since Global News reported their story, Petricca says the district reached out and she will be meeting with a clinical team to access Anthony’s needs on Friday. She says she will also be having a Zoom meeting with Education Minister Dominic Cardy on Thursday.

“The ultimate goal it is to have him in a program where he is safe all day and educated,” she said.

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Program helping Moncton youth with disabilities find work

Program helping Moncton youth with disabilities find work – Mar 18, 2021

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Accessibility advocates raise serious concerns with new policy allowing dogs on Nova Scotia patios – Halifax

One day after the Nova Scotia government announced a new policy allowing dogs on outdoor patios, some accessibility advocates and guide dog users are raising concerns that the presence of pets could compromise their safety.

While service animals are well-trained, any barking or play from dogs at other tables may still distract them, interfering with their ability to keep their owner safe, said guide dog user Shelley Adams.

“I’m just worried about the extra distraction it’s going to bring,” said Adams, sitting next to her own guide dog, Rookie.

“I don’t want to have to be sitting there worrying that another dog is going to try and engage with him, or I don’t know, hurt him in any way … He is my mobility aid.”

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Bone appetit! Dogs now allowed on Nova Scotia restaurant and cafe patios

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Adams said she is not opposed to the policy, and would still attend an outdoor patio but ask to be seated away from other dogs.

In the event someone else’s dog were to start misbehaving, however, the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) said the desire of the service dog user to sit on the patio must be prioritized.

“If there are going to be other animals on a patio, there’s potential for the other animals to negatively interfere with the work of a guide dog. I think the behaviour of the animals needs to be held to the same high standards that we as guide dog users have our dogs following,” said CNIB guide dog program president Diane Bergeron.

It’s important to distinguish between the rights and needs of a service dog user and the preference of a pet owner, she added.

Click to play video: 'Dogs now allowed on N.S. Restaurant and café patios'

Dogs now allowed on N.S. Restaurant and café patios

Dogs now allowed on N.S. Restaurant and café patios – Mar 30, 2021

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The provincial change came into effect on Tuesday, answering a longstanding request from the restaurant industry to remove barriers for dog owners, who may be more likely to stop for a meal or a drink if their dogs can accompany them.

In a Wednesday statement, Environment Department spokesperson Barbara MacLean it’s important for Nova Scotians to do their part not to distract service dogs or interfere with their ability to do their job, but ultimately, establishments are responsible for enforcing the policy properly.

“It’s up to restaurant owners to ensure that dogs on patios are not impeding their customers, including those from the accessibility community and service dogs,” she wrote.

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Businesses that choose to allow pets must also follow certain rules, she added, including keeping their dogs leashed, on the ground and away from the aisles. Pet dogs are still prohibited from entering bars and restaurants, while service dogs are not.

Luc Erjavec, vice-president of the Restaurants Canada Atlantic chapter, emphasized that the new patio provision is voluntary and not every restaurant will choose to adopt it.

Restaurant owners who do choose to allow pets, he added, will do their utmost to accommodate all customers.

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“I don’t think any operator wants 10 dogs on a small patio. I think they’re going to look at each individual situation, the time of day, what’s going on and respond accordingly,” he said. “Our goal is to keep our customers happy.”

Click to play video: 'Letting the dogs out through Canicross'

Letting the dogs out through Canicross

Letting the dogs out through Canicross – Mar 25, 2021

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Accessibility advocate Paul Vienneau, who helped win the case for accessible washrooms in Nova Scotia restaurants, said he shares the concerns of guide dog users.

He loves dogs and sympathizes with the restaurant industry, he told Global News, but he fears the policy decision was taken without consultation from the disability community, casting a shadow over years of accessibility progress.

“There are other ways to make money than doing this,” said Vienneau. “For the government to just wave their hand and basically wipe away decades of hard work by disabled and blind folks that they’ve done is pretty disrespectful to these people.”

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David Fraser, a privacy lawyer who represented wheelchair users in the 2018 challenge for accessible restaurant washrooms, also wondered whether the new policy was “thought through.”

“My concern is by allowing dogs access to patios, you might be reducing the access to those patios that are otherwise accessible to individuals who use service animals, and I think that’s a real concern,” he said.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Eating disorders, substance abuse increasing in youth amid pandemic, says Hamilton hospital – Hamilton

Eating disorders, substance abuse and suicide attempts are just some afflictions McMaster Children’s hospital says they’ve seen increase amid months of COVID-19 pandemic safety measures in Ontario over the last year.

A recent report from Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) which chronicles a four-month period (September to December 2020) during the pandemic, says the shared hypotheses among staff is that isolation, exercise risks, no school, and limited access to physicians are contributors to the negative changes tied to recent youth mental health issues.

“We are all coping with multiple stressors brought on by the current pandemic,” says Dr. Paulo Pires from McMaster’s Child & Youth Mental Health Outpatient Services.

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“We must be attentive to the unique impact of these stressors on children and youth depending on their stage of development.”

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The facility says there was an “unprecedented” increase in referrals to their eating disorders program during the four-month period, 90 per cent more compared to 2019 numbers.

The agency says there were 117 new referrals between September and December compared to just 67 the year before.

Click to play video: 'Increase in need for youth mental health support'

Increase in need for youth mental health support

Increase in need for youth mental health support

Meanwhile, increased conflict at home, a lack of social interaction and the inability to rely on friends are believed to be contributors in a steady increase in suicide-related events.

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“Youth admitted for medical support after a suicide attempt has tripled over a four-month period, compared to last year,” the report said. “Patients are staying in hospital longer due to more serious attempts.”

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‘Burnout is real’: COVID-19 pandemic takes mental health toll on health-care workers

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Youth admitted with substance abuses has also doubled compared to 2019, particularly the use of opioids.

The report from McMaster comes on the heels of a more general mental health survey from the Canadian Mental Health Association which is urging the province to invest in the sector during upcoming budget talks.

The CMHA poll suggests the second wave of the pandemic has “eroded” Ontarians already fragile emotional well-being.

CHMA CEO Camille Quenneville told Global News that three surveys conducted amid the pandemic have trended lower than the previous and continue to head “in the wrong direction.”

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Ontarians’ mental health has continued to deteriorate throughout COVID-19 pandemic: poll

The current poll, conducted by Pollara who surveyed just over 1,000 Ontarians online between Feb. 19 and 22, suggests only 35 per cent of Ontarians consider their mental health to be “very good” or “excellent.”

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That’s down about 17 per cent from the first round of polling in May.

Of particular concern is substance abuse in which more than one-quarter of Ontarians – 27 per cent – are using more substances to cope with the pandemic. That’s up from 21 per cent in a CHMA summer poll.

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“We have never seen the kind of opioid overdose epidemic that we’re in right now,” said Quenneville.

“The numbers are terrifying and the amount of alcohol consumption has also gone up to all-time highs.”

Quenneville says accessing mental health supports is becoming difficult according to the survey’s respondents. Thirty-five per cent say they are finding it difficult to get help compared to the 27 per cent in the summer who said they had issues with professional supports.

Pires says about 1 in 5 children are suffering from a mental health concern, but only about 1 in 4 actually receive treatment.

Click to play video: 'Toronto woman shines light on youth mental health in memory of her daughter'

Toronto woman shines light on youth mental health in memory of her daughter

Toronto woman shines light on youth mental health in memory of her daughter – Feb 26, 2021

The psychologist and clinical director says parents should look out for changes in eating, sleeping and behaviours which last for many days or weeks.

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“Changes in behaviour can include expressions of distress, disconnecting from loved ones, or acting-out behaviours. Caregivers are encouraged to reach out for professional help for their children or for themselves as parents,” says Pires.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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B.C. increases income and disability assistance by $175 per month

The British Columbia government is increasing disability and income assistance rates by $175 per month, but is falling short of making the $300-per-month COVID-19 boost permanent.

Social Development Minister Nicholas Simons said Tuesday the increase will cost about $400 million per year and benefit more than 300,000 people.

It’s the largest ever permanent hike to income assistance and disability assistance rates in the province and will be applied starting in April.

Click to play video: 'COVID-19 relief benefits meant to help people on income and disability assistance are coming to an end'

COVID-19 relief benefits meant to help people on income and disability assistance are coming to an end

COVID-19 relief benefits meant to help people on income and disability assistance are coming to an end – Dec 16, 2020

“This past year has been challenging for everyone, and especially so for those British Columbians already relying on assistance to make ends meet,” Simons said.

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“Now that we are seeing signs of some economic recovery from COVID-19, it’s essential we provide the stability of a permanent rate increase for people and families, including 49,000 children who live in poverty.”

The province is also raising the seniors’ assistance supplement, by $50 a month per resident, for the first time since 1987.

This lifts the maximum rate for a single person from $49.30 to $99.30 per month and benefits up to 20,000 more low-income seniors.

Click to play video: 'B.C. cabinet minister defends decision to cut $300 in monthly COVID-19 income and disability assistance'

B.C. cabinet minister defends decision to cut $300 in monthly COVID-19 income and disability assistance

B.C. cabinet minister defends decision to cut $300 in monthly COVID-19 income and disability assistance – Dec 15, 2020

The temporary $300-per-month disability and income assistance benefit to help recipients deal with the pandemic expired in December.

Eligible British Columbians can still access the COVID-19 Recovery Benefit, which helps people based on income.

“This increase — the largest that people on income assistance and disability assistance have seen – is a critical piece in working toward the fulfilment of our province’s poverty reduction goals,” Together Against Poverty Society executive director Doug King said.

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Coronavirus: B.C. government still processing more than 330K applications for recovery benefit

As of April 1, a single person on income assistance will receive $935 per month and a single person on disability assistance will receive $1,358.42.

A couple on income assistance will receive $1,427.22 per month and a couple on disability assistance will receive $1,947.56, after increases of $350 per month.

A single parent with one child will receive $1,270.58 if on income assistance and $1,694.08 if on disability assistance, plus up to $697 in federal and provincial child benefits.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Sidewalk debate: London, Ont., Civic Works Committee grants no exemption for any street – London

London, Ont., city council’s Civic Works Committee has voted against exempting any street that’s set to receive a new sidewalk this summer.

The debate, which took place during a virtual meeting Monday afternoon, heard both sides from members of city council as well as 31 delegates.

Eleven streets were set to get new sidewalks installed once underground infrastructure reconstruction takes place, but this didn’t sit well with some homeowners.

Read more:
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Speaking at the meeting, more than 10 homeowners brought up the issue of tree removal that comes with installing new sidewalks.

“It appears that there are 14 trees on 13 properties slated for removal,” said a resident of Bartlett Crescent, one of the streets on the city’s sidewalk installation list.

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“We will be left with three trees on 13 properties… This is an unnecessary loss of trees that are integral to the charm and beauty of our landscape.”

Click to play video: 'Icy sidewalk dispute in Saint John'

Icy sidewalk dispute in Saint John

Icy sidewalk dispute in Saint John – Mar 8, 2021

Others said the roads are safe for both pedestrians and drivers. One resident also brought up the mental health benefits that comes with a greater number of trees.

On the other hand, accessibility advocates argued sidewalks are vital to ensuring London is moving towards becoming more inclusive.

“Older adults with mobility challenges, young families pushing strollers… neither of whom should be on the street,” said Jay Menard, the chair of London city hall’s Accessibility Advisory Committee.

“From city parks to sidewalk debates over the past few years, disabled Londoners have routinely been told to go somewhere else or to wait for the next time around,” added Jeff Preston, an assistant professor in disability studies at Western University.

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The debate also heard from a resident with a disability who disagrees with sidewalk installations.

S. Skelton lives in the St. Anthony Road area and has lived with the challenges of a traumatic brain injury for more than 20 years. St. Anthony Road is set to get sidewalks this summer.

“I speak for six per cent of households (in my neighbourhood) with a resident who meets the criteria of an Ontarian with a disability,” she said. “What we are unanimously opposed to is the assumption that sidewalks in our neighbourhood will improve our accessibility (and) safety.”

Skelton said sidewalks often cause more trouble for those with disabilities because ridges can make walking or wheeling uncomfortable and difficult. Snowy and icy conditions means sidewalks are unusable at times.

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S. Connolly, who lives in the Friars Way area expressed similar concerns. He’s the stepfather to a 21-year-old who uses a wheelchair.

“I am opposed to the sidewalks because (they) reduce Noah’s accessibility and they are a potential safety hazard.”

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“We have never (experienced) any issues or problems using the roadways… Just because we have no sidewalks doesn’t mean the neighbourhood is not accessible to all. In our neighbourhood, (the) quiet roads without sidewalks are more accessible.”

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Green access road prompts heated debate – Aug 22, 2018

Towards the end of the meeting, members of the Civic Works Committee voted against exempting any street that’s set to receive a new sidewalk.

Councillor Paul Van Meerbergen was the sole member of the committee that voted to grant exemptions for all streets.

Councillor Elizabeth Peloza also voted to grant an exemption for Bartlett Crescent only.

Read more:
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The final decision goes to city council on March 23.

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The following streets are part of the city’s sideline installation project:

  • Abbey Rise
  • Elm Street
  • Friars Way
  • Imperial Road
  • Paymaster Avenue
  • St. Anthony Road
  • Tarbart Terrace
  • Bartlett Crescent
  • Doncaster Avenue
  • Doncaster Place

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Halifax project set to create accessible sex toys for people with disabilities – Halifax

Sex should be part of any conversation and it’s already happening around people with disabilities, said the Atlantic regional coordinator of Tetra Society of North America.

“It’s a subject that is kind of seen as taboo,” said Andrew Jantzen, whose organization is working with Venus Envy on a project focusing on creating accessible sex toys for people with disabilities in Halifax.

The project is called “Adaptations for Accessible Sex Practices Project.”

Andrew Jantzen of Tetra Society.

“Sex toys are not designed for people with disabilities, just like most other things that exist out there, so it’s trying to fill that gap,” said Jantzen.

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“And out there, people are talking about it. People want this to happen. So I’m just saying, how can we adapt things? How can we use some of the the handy skills that come with Tetra volunteers to be able to fill this gap?”

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The purpose of Tetra is to recruit skilled volunteer engineers and technicians to create assistive devices for people with disabilities, and creating adaptive and innovative equipment for sexual practices is just one of their many projects.

The education coordinator at Venus Envy, a sex shop and bookstore, said that the first phase of the project is to interview a group of people from the disabled community who want to talk about their sex lives, and to test out some of the devices that the project will be making.

“A lot of sex toys up until sort of five, 10 years ago were made for like straight penetrative sex. It’s not just disabled bodies that are being left out of kind of the thoughts around sex toys. It’s a lot of bodies,” said Rachele Manett.

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She said certain kinds of sex toys are just not working for people with disabilities.

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“Sometimes they’re too heavy. Buttons don’t work specifically when it comes to certain kinds of mobility limitations,” said Manett.

This is why she said the first phase of the project will look into what kind of sex toys people have access to that have made things better or more difficult, so that in the second phase the team of engineers and design specialists will have the information they need to create the equipment.

Manett said 40 people have applied as participants in just three weeks since the project has been announced.

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She said they’re now in the process of creating a diverse group of participants to interview for the project.

“We’re trying to create a group of people that is quite diverse in the types of disabilities (they have), but also in terms of identities. We are looking to prioritize people with intersecting marginalized identities. So really making sure that we’re including voices who are sort of often left on the margins,” said Manett.

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She said that as a society, “we have very much infantilized people with disability and we treat them like children.”

“It’s really easy for us to say, well, that means disabled people aren’t having sex, which is not true … or that disabled people have more important things to worry about than sex,” Manett added.

Click to play video 'Adaptive clothing for people with disabilities'

Adaptive clothing for people with disabilities

Adaptive clothing for people with disabilities – Jan 2, 2021

But that’s not what the project is all about, she said.

“We already know that people with disabilities are having sex and want to be having sex. That’s the part that we’re not exploring,” said Manett.

“What we’re literally saying is how can we make sex better or more accessible or more inclusive and how can we as sort of a society, change our views instead of sort of asking more questions?”

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Tetra Society is asking anyone who would like to volunteer for the project to complete the online volunteer intake application here. 

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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