NDP slams contradictory messaging on disability group

Dale Kirby, the NDP Critic for the Status of Persons with Disabilities (MHA, St. John’s North) says the provincial government’s callous decision to cut funding to a community group which advocates for people with disabilities is particularly surprising in view of statements government members have made over the past year.

The Coalition of Persons with Disabilities Newfoundland and Labrador will be forced to cease operations almost immediately after successive funding cuts from federal Conservative government and the provincial Department of Advanced Education and Skills.

The minister of AES, Joan Shea, in a message to COD-NL’s Annual General Meeting last year, acknowledged the group’s valuable work in “helping people to find solutions that remove barriers and support inclusion.”

Premier Kathy Dunderdale, in a similar message to the AGM, said, “Your group is an impressive example of how community-based organizations are working hard to advance inclusion for persons with disabilities.”

Shea, in a news release announcing the government’s inclusion strategy last April, said, “Working together, we will lead the way forward, with each step to inclusion building on the last, to a society free of barriers where individuals can actively participate in all aspects of life in our province.”

“The Coalition of Persons with Disabilities, with just one full-time employee, has done an extraordinary job of advocating for people with disabilities,” Kirby said. “Perhaps they have been too good in their government lobbying, so the minister decided to shut them down and silence them?

“What I do know is that the people served by a vibrant community organization are in danger of losing a vital tool in their ongoing fight for social justice and economic equity. The Minister should admit her error and reinstate funding for this hardworking group of community-minded people.”

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