Programs Available for Persons with Disabilities in Canada

Written by D. Morgan, Online Contributor at HandyTax

I am a 46 year old woman who has been living with spastic muscle disorder for most of my life. It is a neurological disorder of which there is no cure. It really is like living with the symptoms of MS without actually having the disease. It causes great pain and I have to live on narcotics just to be able to move around. The medications cause a lot of side effects that I must cope with. Specific exercises are part of my daily routine to try to stretch the muscle. This is to help to keep me mobile.

Being disabled has many limitations but I am very glad that I live in Canada. There are many programs for disabled people that can really make a difference in the quality of life. Without these support systems, I can’t imagine how I would be able to keep the positive mental attitude that I do have. Here is a look at some of the excellent programs available:

Easter Seals

This program focuses on helping children and young adults with disabilities. One of the most important resources that children require are programs that enable them to interact with other children with disabilities. The worst thing a child can face is feeling like they are alone. Easter Seals offers many recreational programs including camps, where the focus is not on their disabilities but on having fun. Recreational programs also develop lasting relationships that can provide a support system that can only come from someone else who is facing the same obstacles in life.

For parents, there is not only emotional encouragement, but financial as well. Having a child with disabilities can become very expensive, from tools they require to perform daily activities to specialists and therapists. Sometimes, the financial difficulties can become very stressful and often parents are not able to afford what their child needs, which just leads to guilt and frustration. Having financial assistance for parents allows parents to focus on the life of their child.

March of Dimes Canada

March of Dimes Canada offers a very wide variety of programs for people with disabilities. Below are listed a few of them:

Attendant Care Services: A trained professional or volunteer will visit you and assist with daily activities such as meals and bathing. They may also accompany the patient to events and appointments.

Home & Vehicle Modification Program: This is a program in the province of Ontario that provides funding up to $15,000 to make modifications, either to a patient’s home or vehicle. This enables people with disabilities to remain in their homes rather than having to go to a group complex.

Conductive Education: This is a rehabilitation program for people that suffer from disabilities that affect their motor skills, such as stroke, multiple sclerosis or cerebral palsy. It allows patients to become more independent in their day to day lives and be much more functional. For people who are disabled, the loss of independence can be devastating.

Employment Services for Client: March of Dimes provides not only assistance in finding employment for persons with disabilities, but they also give them the education they need and the tools required to enter the workforce. They have a great support system that helps aid people as they go through the process of trying to start a new phase of their lives, one that offers them fulfillment.

Assistive Devices Program: By providing devices to aid in the mobility of disabled adults, this program offers funding for disabled Ontarians for devices that are required for independence. Funding is usually provided by the United Way and allows clients to stay at home or even maintain employment. The funding pays for the cost of the device not covered by the province’s program.

Assistive Devices Program

This is a program run by the Government of Ontario, which assists in the funding of devices that are required by people with long term disabilities, living in Ontario, to live more functional lives. Some of the devices covered are; supplies for diabetics, wheelchairs, walkers, hearing aids, oxygen tanks and prostheses. The Government pays up to 75% of the cost of the device(s).

Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program for Persons with Disabilities (RRAP – Disabilities):

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) provides assistance for financing for both landlords and homeowners who need to make modifications to the living quarters in order for a disabled person to have more access and abilities in their day to day lives. Things that may be covered are bath lifts, ramps and handrails etc. There is certain criteria that must be met in order for a person to qualify. The person with the disability must have low income, the house is required to be valued below a certain threshold and the structure must be in good shape.

Home Adaptations for Seniors’ Independence (HASI)

The HASI program, also run by the CMHC, allows a forgivable loan to be given to a low-income senior (65 years of age or older) with a disability to make minor adaptations to their home in order to better facilitate their daily lives. The residence must be permanent and the changes must be made in relation to whatever abilities were lost.

Living with a disability is never easy but there are services available that can enable people to live a much higher quality life. As of yet, I do not require a wheelchair, but when it becomes necessary, I appreciate the fact that there are programs to help make adjustments in my home.

I urge everyone to do some investigating and see if you or someone you care about can qualify for any of the funding or aids available. It is very important that we do all we can to help people with disabilities to feel like they are still in charge of their lives. Let them know that they may be living with a disability, but they can still live enriched and rewarding lives.