Monday, 18 August 2014

Human Rights Challenge.

I received the application for my Alberta Human Rights complaint in the mail last week and I filled it out today. Four pages of writing to tell our story, convince an investigator that the Alberta government is violating my fathers (and everyone else in his situation) human rights; with the hope that in the end, the piece of legislation which governs long term care  and access to wait lists is either struck down or modified. 

It's daunting. But exciting. I feel we have a real chance of being heard. My fathers rights are clearly being contravened. It is discrimination based upon his place of origin (Ontario) and based upon mental and physical disability. My mother, as an able bodied person of sound mind, is free to move to Alberta and access all the services she needs after 3 months, including access to health care. My father on the other hand, cannot access the services he needs to sustain his life until he has been a resident for a year. If he was less disabled and required less care, the one year residency wouldn't apply.   
This clearly discriminates on the basis of mental and physical disability. 

I've written this all out, including the impossible situation it has put my mother in. To remain isolated in Toronto or to move to Alberta and abandon my father in his long term care facility there while she gets the emotional support she needs here. 

Alberta's solution is to offer private care at the cost of $7500 a month. It is two tiered health care at it's worst. Where average income or poor Canadians must abandon loved ones in other provinces while the rich can move their loved ones close to home. What's worse, is that this policy allows the rich to cue jump, even within Alberta, because these "private" spots are found in public facilities. Which means that average Albertans who are able to apply to the wait list wait even longer for a spot in long term care. 

I'm just waiting for my formal rejection for being added to the waitlist from Alberta Health Services. Then the application goes in and we see what happens. 

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Taking action

The unfairness of the situation with my father has weighed on me for some time. In a way, it has brought me back to the time after Phoenix's diagnosis, where no matter how hard I cried, railed, yelled, begged or bargained, I couldn't change the fact that Phoenix had Down syndrome. I was helpless. I couldn't change it.

Trying to get things to change in a massive system like the Alberta government makes me feel just as helpless. I went to the media, who surprisingly, featured our story on the evening news. Still nothing changed. I called Health Canada to see if long term care is covered by federal legislation: it isn't. I've written to the Minister of Health to see how I petition to have the legislation changed: no answer yet. I've called the AHS continuing care resolution team: as far as I know, my complaint has gone to where complaints against the government go to die.  And yet when questioned by the media  AHS is "working with the family" to bring my father to Alberta. I call bull shit on that whopper of a lie.

Then I called the Alberta Human Rights Commision. The investigator I spoke with said that our situation sounds complicated, but to make an application. What we need is a defining action and day of this action that the Alberta Government violated my fathers human rights. This Monday I will be formally requesting that my fathers name be added to the wait list for long term care. Presumably the answer will be no, as everyone I have spoken to at AHS has told me it isn't possible until his residency has been completed.  I'm hoping to get the rejection in writing, so I have proof of the date of the discrimination.  Regardless , the conversation  will be documented on my end and submitted with my complaint. I made sure to ask the investigator if complaints are ever launched against the government (thinking that most are against private companies etc). It turns out that you can make a complaint against the government. A preliminary investigation will be launched, and if the Commision finds that our case has merit, it will proceed from there.

The best part is that the investigation will continue even in the event of an election or if the government changes hands., which is entirely possible  given  the bad behaviour of our recently departed premier.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Disability advocacy

The focus of this blog will be changing for a bit as the challenges of my life have changed. Like many people my age, I'm dealing with the complications of having parents who are aging while at the same time raising very young children.

Two years ago my father suffered a series  of debilitating strokes. He went from a fully functioning member of society who owned and ran a company, employed sales people and paid his taxes. He was a husband, a father, a grandfather, a friend. He loved, gave love. He drank wine, cooked dinner for my mother, hosted epic dinner parties and ate danishes for breakfast. He lived his life to the fullest. 

Overnight it was all gone. 

My father lived in a hospital for a year while we waited to see if he would come back to us. He didn't. He hasn't. He currently lives in a long term care facility where he receives help eating, toileting, walking, getting in and out of a wheelchair. He can't read or write anymore and doesn't always recognize my mother. He is completely dependent on others to facilitate meeting his needs. He is totally disabled.  

My mother has been dealing with some health problems of her own. It has become more and more evident to her that she is lonely where she is and wants to be near family. Overnight their she had built for herself with my father was gone. 

She wants to move to Alberta, be near my family and watch her grandchildren grow up. How hard could a move like this be, we thought. We'll just move my dad across provinces and settle him in a long  term care facility here, we thought. 

Then we hit the wall of the Alberta legislature. Who mandated a number of years ago that in order for someone to get a place in a publicly funded long term care facility that a 1 year residency must be completed. So someone who is completely helpless, unable to care for themselves, must live independently for a year before they qualify for long term care. Or, the family must pay for private care for a year while they fufill the residency. We cannot even apply to the wait list until this year has passed. It's ludicrous and totally unfair. As far as I know, no other province has a policy like this. Ontario certainly doesn't.