Within Reach: Fall 2015

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Reach 35th Anniversary Celebrity Auction present by TD Bank Group, Thursday October 22, 2015
 Thursday October 22, 2015
Reach 35th Anniversary Celebrity Auction
presented by TD Bank Group. 

 This year’s event will feature a corporate reception, along with a gourmet dinner catered by Vittoria Trattoria,  a fashion show by Marina MacLeod and jazz music by The Wave.
Additional sponsorship opportunities still available, please contact Reach Canada at
Dawn, a 2014 auction participant experiencing her winning! One of our many items from last year was a Walk-On role on the CBC set of Murdoch Mysteries

Reach Celebrity Auction 2014: Dawn, a 2014 auction participant experiencing her winning! One of our many items from last year was a Walk-On role on the CBC set of Murdoch Mysteries!!! Stay tuned for this year’s exciting items!

 A Note from Paula Agulnik, Executive Director
Hello folks,

As we are part way through our beautiful summer and heading towards another busy Fall season, we want to provide an update of times past and looking forward to our future months at Reach.

We celebrated our 34th Annual General Meeting on June 10th with over 35 people in attendance and welcomed wonderful additions to our Board of Directors: returning member, Karen Coffey, AODA Human Resources Manager/ Coordinator at Algonquin College and Justice Kevin Phillips from the Superior Court of Justice. Our appreciation was stated to those who left the Board this year, Kelly Mertl and Christine Stevens whose dedication is truly valued.
John Beedell, a tremendous supporter of Reach, active member of both the Board and Run committee, passed away this past year. A special award was presented to his family, beautifully represented by sons Jeff and Dave, both of whom know Reach very well as Jeff was a past Honourary Counsel to our NGO. The memory of John will be highlighted again at our 35 th Anniversary to be held next Spring.  As usual, the AGM was a bit of a ‘love-in’ with supporters and active members of our Board present to witness awards given to very special recipients this year: Lucille Marleau, Education Committee Chairperson, Volunteer of the Year; Friends Bingo Hall, Corporate Supporter of the Year along with our Bingo Queen, Anne Benedek who was surprised by receiving an award for her dedication of over 20 plus years; Manny Agulnik, Chairperson of the Run for Reach for the past thirty years received a special award from long-time friend and Reach supporter, Race Director, Joe DuVall who started this tremendous event three decades ago.
Shortly afterwards, on May 20th, we celebrated an exciting Cabaret with comedian extraordinaire, Darryl Lenox, who highlighted and was Master of Ceremonies of this fabulous event. Several other local performers graciously provided their time: Maria Hawkins, Propeller Dance and Loyal Kigabiro, all fabulous! Thanks to a tremendous team lead by active Board members, Erin MacNamara and James Foord, both performers in their own right!! (James performed and coordinated our past Lawyers Comedy Nights and Erin was recently in a play at the Ottawa Little Theatre and ‘brought the house down’ (No bias there!).

The summer brought superb volunteers to our office! We have the pleasure of working with the following law student interns and volunteers: Tijana Potkonjak, Grace Kang, Annie Zhuang, Sarah Harrison and  Meaghan Patrick from the University of Ottawa Faculty of Common Law as well as Riley McIntyre and  Sarah Hawkins both from Queen’s University Faculty of Law along with Jessica Franklin who came to us from Performance Plus & EARN, Employment Accessibility. In addition, many thanks go to JC Sulenko for her article and Inder Suri for her case review. Your feedback or contributions of articles is welcome.

Fall Reach seminars have been planned and we look forward to learning from amazing professionals on such topics as The Power of Adaptive Technology to be held at 12 p.m. on Friday, September 25; Programs and Supports for Post-Secondary Students with Disabilities to be held on October 1 at 7 p.m.; Invisible Disabilities, specifically mental health and the workplace to be held on November 18th   at 7 p.m. and Spousal and Child Support including Child Custody and Access, to be held in early November. Please check this issue or our website
www.reach.ca for details and registration.
As it is our 35th, we will be bringing out the glitz on
Thursday, October 22 with amazing items as we celebrate our 35th Anniversary Auction presented by TD Bank Group! We are very excited to announce that the purchase of tickets and corporate tables for the Auction are now available on-line at www.reach.ca
,  613-236-6636 and in this issue. It will take place at the St. Elias Centre. As a totally self-funded, charitable NGO your support will continue to help keep our programs and services going.
Auction items and sponsorships are welcome. Please contact me or Joanne Silkauskas at 613-236-6636 for offers and additional information. 

Trust that everyone will have a safe, enjoyable balance of the summer!



The Honorable John Richard presenting an honorary award for the tremendous support of the late John Beedell to two of his three sons,  Jeff and Dave Beedell

The Honorable John Richard presenting an honorary award for the tremendous support of the late John Beedell to two of his three sons,  Jeff and Dave Beedell.

Anne Benedek with the Honorable John Richard, an Honorary Chairperson.

Anne Benedek with the Honorable John Richard, an Honorary Chairperson.

Lucille Marleau and The Honorable John Richard, receiving the Volunteer of the Year Award.

Lucille Marleau and The Honorable John Richard, receiving the Volunteer of the Year Award.

Manny Agulnik withThe Honorable John Richard.

Manny Agulnik withThe Honorable John Richard.

Upcoming Seminars!
The Power of Adaptive Technology
This seminar will address updates relating to adaptive technology and its accessibility to help realize the full and equal participation of persons with disabilities. This seminar will also include the impact and benefits of accessible information and communication technology to improve the functional capabilities, well-being and inclusion of persons with disabilities in society and the workplace. The seminar is valuable to persons with disabilities, employers and service providers.

When:             FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 25, 2015 at 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Reach Canada, 400 Coventry Road, 3rd floor, Ottawa, Ontario
Presenters:    Louis Goudreau, Clinical Engineer, electro-mechanical
                       designs, the Rehabilitation Centre; Dr. Rodney Taylor, Doctor 
                       of Audiology and President of Advanced Hearing Group of 
                       Clinics; Nicholas Contant-Nagy, Audiologist, Advanced
                       Hearing Group of Clinics; Leona Emberson, Independent Living
                       Skills, CNIB

To pre-register for The Power of Adaptive Technology click here!!
Programs and Support for Post-Secondary Students with Disabilities
This seminar focuses on programs and supports available to eligible students with disabilities in post-secondary education or considering post-secondary education. Information will be shared about the resources available through universities and colleges to accommodate the varied needs of students with disabilities. The presentation will include support counsellors from the University of Ottawa, Carleton University, Algonquin College and representatives from Ontario Disabilities Support Program. The seminar is valuable to persons with disabilities and educators.

When:           THURSDAY OCTOBER 1, 2015 at 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Location:       UNITED WAY, 363 Coventry Road, Ottawa, Ontario, Free
                       parking/ OC Transpo bus # 18

Presenters:   Centres for Students with Disabilities from Carleton University,
                        University of  Ottawa and Algonquin College, Ontario 
                        Disabilities Support Program (ODSP)

To pre-register for Programs and Support for Post-Secondary Students with Disabilities click here!!

Articles and Reflections

Mothers with Disabilities
Sarah Harrison,
JD Candidate University of Ottawa 
When examining the obstacles faced by women with disabilities, it is important to consider the intersectionality of the discrimination they face. Women with disabilities face oppression and discrimination on many fronts including: gender, disability, race, poverty, and sexual orientation. Each factor intensifies the discrimination (1). Ben-Moshe and Magaña assert “disability identity is experienced in different ways by persons with disabilities who are not white and middle class” (2).

The authors argue “certain conditions get defined as medical “problems” (that is, disabilities) as a result of specific understanding of what is “normal” by those with the power to exert these definitions on others” (3).

Many people, including government agents and legal actors, draw on biases and stereotypes when they interact with women with disabilities. These preconceived notions of capabilities are escalated when that woman is a mother. People make assumptions about a mother with disabilities without knowing her capabilities. Sometimes social workers and other professionals remove the child thinking it is in everyone’s best interest when it is really detrimental to both mother and child.

Maurice Feldman et al conducted a study with results showing that a parent with cognitive impairment is not a reliable predicting factor for “poor outcomes for children”: 2/3 of the 1,170 children “had no identified learning/development problem and 42% of the children in this sample had no identified child functioning issue or problem at all” (4).  A child with a parent who has disabilities can learn many important life skills like compassion, resourcefulness, and open-mindedness (5).

Maria Garrick, with Children’s Aid Society Family Services, argues the “least disruptive course of action should be taken when intervening, irrespective of a parent’s ability, so that stability is maintained for the children”6. To further reduce oppressive practices, Garrick also urges social workers to recognize cultural differences and to interpret the Child and Family Service Act principles through a more objective and less ethnocentric lens. Ben-Moshe and Magaña echo this sentiment by explaining the role of intersectionality in assessments. Some cultures are more individualistic and members of the group are expected to lead lives independent of their families. Other cultures are more collectivist and members are expected to be interdependent (7).

The West Coast LEAF Project (WCLP) authors argue the money spent in relocating children taken from mothers with disabilities would be better invested in support services to equip these mothers to care for their children. The Feldman study echoes this suggestion: “interventions designed to strengthen social support networks” also improve “mental health and psychological well-being” (8). The WCLP authors also assert that decision-makers must be educated about the abilities these mothers have to try and de-stigmatize their situation: mothers with disabilities are capable of parental care especially if adaptive measures are available. All parents need help on occasion, but when a mother with disabilities needs help people sometimes assume it is due to her disability. Some mothers do not take advantage of available resources for fear of being deemed incompetent and having their children taken away. Jewelles Smith, a project coordinator for Disabled Women’s Network of Canada (DAWN), is a mother with disabilities. Smith explains the trepidation: “When the ministry becomes involved in any way, that’s when a high loss of custody occurs. And regaining custody is almost impossible if you are a disabled mother in Canada” (9).

Approximately 1-3 % of Canadians have a cognitive disability and yet this small population comprises more than 25% of all family court applications. These parents are more likely to lose their children to foster care. There is empirical proof that “efficacious interventions include direct observation and task analysis of parenting skills and behavioural skill training strategies including audiovisual aids, prompting, modeling, role playing, practice, feedback, and positive reinforcement” (10).

Nikki Ross, a mother of 5, has a learning disability. Her sons were taken when she was pregnant with her daughter. Ross says she did not fully understand what the Ministry of Children and Family Development wanted her to do. After 4 months she got them back after demonstrating the support network she had available and taking parenting classes. She repeats these classes to help herself learn the information. Ross was angered to read that a couple, both with learning disabilities, had their children taken away without being given a chance to parent: “They’ve been written off as parents’ right from the beginning and they don’t deserve that” (11).

Ross has many expenses. She has a support worker who largely helps with the day to day care of Ross’ children and bookkeeping chores. Provincial funding helps pay for the monthly $900 cost of this support. Ross also has the additional out of pocket expense for daycare for some of her children.
Single mothers with disabilities are usually in a financial quagmire: there are high rates of poverty and unemployment – nearly 75% of Canadian women with disabilities are unemployed (12). Policies that clawback child support from those on financial assistance worsens this situation. Such government policies seem to conflict with the support policy system in the Divorce Act. The Divorce Act requires child support to take priority if someone applies for both child and spousal support to provide for the best interests of the child.
Parenthood is the hardest job anyone will ever have. Yet the physically limited parent may be the only parent in the neighbourhood toward whom the community directs its anxiety about the difficulties of the job. Joann Lemaistre, “Parenting”, With The Power Of Each Breath -

1) “Mothering with disabilities project”, online: West Coast LEAF <www.westcoastleaf.org>.
2) Liat Ben-Moshe and Sandy Magaña, “An Introduction to Race, Gender, and Disability: Intersectionality, Disability Studies, and Families of Color” (2014) 2 Women, Gender, and Families of Color 105 at 111.
3) Ben-Moshe and Magaña, supra note 2 at 106.
4) Maurice Feldman, David McConnell, and Marjorie Aunos, “Parental Cognitive Impairment, Mental Health, and Child Outcomes in a Child Protection Population” (2012) 5 Journal of Mental Health Research 66 at 83.
5) Parents with disabilities, online: Office on Women’s Health <
6) Parents with disabilities share their experiences at access awareness forum (7 April 2010), online: Law Society of Upper Canada <
7) Ben-Moshe and Magaña, supra note 2 at 109.
8) Feldman, McConnell, and Aunos, supra note 4 at 83.
9) Patricia Tomasi, Parents with disabilities: These moms live in fear of losing their kids (10 May 2015), online: The Huffington Post Canada <
10) Feldman, McConnell, and Aunos, supra note 4 at 68.
“Developmentally disabled mother raising five children“ (26 September 2008), online: Vancouver Sun

Parents with Disabilities – A brief review of Children’s Aid Society Case Law
Grace Kang, JD Candidate University of Ottawa

Parents with disabilities face unique challenges. As delved in more detail in the previous article by my colleague, parents with disabilities face a multitude of difficulties that are intersectional and very complex. Intersectionality, a concept that describes this complexity, offers the idea that there is an interconnected element between numerous factors that is at the root of a particular individual’s challenges. For instance parents with disabilities, depending on the particular individual, will face specific hardships in parenting not only due to their disability but also their age, gender, ethnicity, socio-economic status, educational background, and so forth.  Different types of disabilities (physical, mental, learning, cognitive, environmental, etc.) also face different types of difficulties that are distinctive to that particular disability.
A brief review of the case law, focusing on three Children Aid Society (CAS) child custody cases in Ontario, reflects these intersectional complexities that parents with disabilities face in the legal system. It is important to emphasize that this is not an exhaustive review but a demonstration of the unique challenges that parents with disabilities face in the legal realm.
In Children’s Aid Society of Ottawa-Carleton v T, an expectant mother who has Cerebral Palsy and uses a wheelchair was referred to the Children’s Aid Society due to a social worker’s concern for the infant’s well being. The mother was fully dependent on her 22-year old husband, who was also the sole caretaker of his disabled father. Further, the couple’s apartment building was not accessible and there were significant safety and hygiene concerns within the living quarters. The judge expressed concerns with the overwhelming responsibility of the husband to take adequate care of his quadriplegic wife, new infant, and disabled father while maintaining employment to financially provide for his family. The judge, however, expressly stated that the mother’s disability does not mean that she is unable to parent, but due to her disability she will need substantial, daily assistance to meet the needs of her infant child. The judge specifically noted that weekly homemaker services, involvement of a public health nurse and attendant care to assist the husband in the home were necessary to meet the infant’s needs. Unfortunately, these required government-funded services were not available until 6 months after the custody hearing.
Section 51(3) of the Child and Family Services Act requires the Children’s Aid Society to establish, on credible and trustworthy evidence, reasonable grounds to believe that there is a possibility that if a child is returned to his or her parents that the child is likely to suffer harm. Due to the factors mentioned in the previous paragraph, the judge determined that there was risk to the child and that the child could not be adequately protected under the care of the biological parents. The infant was apprehended by Children’s Aid Society five days after birth and was placed in temporary custody of the maternal grandmother.
In another case, Children’s Aid Society of Peel (Region) v K(M), the Children’s Aid Society filed a motion for summary judgment for a finding that the child was in need of protection pursuant to subsection 47(2), subclause 37(2)(b)(i) of the Child and Family Services Act and for an order of Crown wardship of the child with the purpose of adoption with no access by the parents. The child had been apprehended by CAS nine days after birth and had been in the care of foster parents. The Children’s Aid Society had filed the motion on the basis that due to the developmental disabilities of the biological parents, they had difficulties with basic parental skills and to responding to their child’s cues such as discerning choking hazards, and distressed behaviour of the child. The Children’s Aid Society also stipulated that the mother has a history of depression and the father has a history of police involvement. Adding to the parents’ challenges, the child has vision, hearing, orthopedic and developmental disabilities that require very specific accommodations. The court in this case did not state that parents with developmental disabilities should preclude them from becoming capable parents if adequate supports were to be provided. However, due to the strained work schedule of the maternal grandmother, with whom the couple would reside with the child, the necessary supports were found to be insufficient. The court granted CAS’s motion for summary judgment and ordered Crown wardship of the child with no access.
In the third and final case of this review, Children’s Aid Society of Brant v M (K), the mother had a long history of involvement with the Children’s Aid Society. A woman with a learning disability, depression, anxiety, Borderline Personality Disorder and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, the mother had four previous children placed in CAS custody. The mother’s fifth child had been born limp and with labored breathing due to the mother’s prescription medication. With the special care that the infant required and the father also having mental health and addiction challenges, the court found it vital for the mother to adhere to medical treatment recommendations which included a combination of psychopharmacological intervention and intensive psychological therapy. Unable to comply with these court instructions, the mother was deemed incapable of providing adequate protection of the infant. The infant was made a ward of the Crown, without access, and placed in the care of custody of CAS.
Understandably, the cases above exemplify the great difficulties that parents with disabilities face in child custody disputes. These difficulties are complicated further when the child requires specific accommodation. This article is not stated to suggest a lack of hope or to bring blame to anyone, but as a way to bring attention to the deficits that exists within our social and health resources. The courts have recognized that parents with disabilities do not have diminished capacity to parent a child, so long as there are adequate supports for both parents and child. However, the government-funded support arrangements and specific accommodations for particular disabilities, such as mental health and developmental disabilities, are significantly lacking. There are no easy solutions or answers to address this inadequacy, but what we as social citizens of a community can offer is compassion and understanding; an understanding that what parents with disabilities face everyday is complex, demanding and unique to each family.


Child and Family Services Act, RSO 1990, c C 11.
Children’s Aid Society of Brant v M (K), 2010 WDFL 4211.
Children’s Aid Society of Ottawa-Carleton v T, [2000] OJ No 2273, 97 ACWS (3d) 939.
Children’s Aid Society of Peel (Region) v K(M), 2005 ONCJ 246, 2005 WDFL 4136, 2005 WDFL 4142, 2005 WDFL 4143, 141 ACWS (3d) 981.

His Body Betrays Him, Society Admonishes Him: Living with Disabilities for Three Decades
Sarah Harrison, JD Candidate University of Ottawa

Mr. Harrison and service dog Kowal
It was a cold December day in 1983 when our lives were changed forever. My father was injured at work. His injuries left him permanently disabled and in constant pain. I was very young at the time. My father became a stay at home dad while my mother had to leave her small daughters and join the workforce.

I was raised by both my parents, but my relationship with my father was always different: we had to help each other to get through each day. He had good days and bad days. On the bad days my sister and I would have to do more chores because my father could not. We would also have to tend to him because he was often sick from the intense pain. On his good days – days with bearable pain – he would try to treat us with trips to the park or ice cream.

We both learned from a young age to have compassion and consideration for everyone, but especially for those with disabilities. We had an appreciation for the struggles and barriers those with disabilities had to face.
As we got older we could hear and understand some of the comments made about our father. People did not understand. His disability was not visible. Some people made terrible comments about him and to him. He was not a man. He was lazy. He was a faker.

We knew different. We heard his anguish and saw his tears. He was in constant pain and could do little about it. Medications helped once in awhile. Usually they just made the pain a bit more tolerable. He saw dozens of doctors. Given the nature and location of the injury, the doctors offered little hope.

In the past few years, my father has noticed some improvement in the way others treat him. Now there is more awareness about invisible disabilities. A few times he has gone grocery shopping and some of the staff noticed him with his dark glasses and service dog. They insisted he seek out an employee if he required assistance. They have even done his shopping for him when he brings in a list. They were not forceful in thinking he could not do it by himself. They were not condescending to him. They offered to help on his terms.
Cartoon: Invisible disabilities
He occasionally still faces obstacles. Some people assume he is blind because of the dark glasses. Some people bombard him with questions about having a service dog when he can see. He has been to establishments that have told him to leave because it was not a Seeing Eye dog. They assumed it was just a pet dog, even though the dog was wearing a bright orange “Service Dog” vest. Even when my father presents his “Service Dog ID Card”, some people still cast a judgmental eye in disbelief of my father’s disabilities.

Society has made great strides to create a sense of inclusiveness. However, it is only a few steps on the long journey to equality.

For more information on invisible disabilities, please visit the following sites:
National Public Radio: http://www.npr.org/  “People With 'Invisible Disabilities' Fight For Understanding“
Disabled World: Invisible Disabilities: http://www.disabled-world.com/
What if We Treated Physical Disabilities Like Mental Health Problems? (Cartoon): http://www.robot-hugs.com/helpful-advice/

Eldridge v British Columbia (Attorney General) [SCC; 1997] 
Inderpreet Suri, JD Candidate Queens University

Eldridge v. British Columbia was and continues to be a very important victory for the disabled community. The plaintiffs took this case all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada and won, thereby establishing a binding precedent for all of Canada.
The plaintiffs were born deaf and communicated by sign language. When they went to hospitals, there was always an absence of interpreters to help translate. As a result, the plaintiffs had difficulty communicating with doctors and other health care providers. The lack of communication increased the risk of misdiagnosis and resulted in ineffective treatment.
 The plaintiffs claimed that the lack of interpreters violated Section 15 (1) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. According to the Charter, Section 15 covers Equality Rights and states:
             "Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right
             to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without
             discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race,
             national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical
At the Supreme Court of Canada, the plaintiffs argued that one or more of the rights guaranteed by the Charter had been violated. However, the Supreme Court held  that although one or more of these rights were violated, it was saved under Section 1 of the Charter which states that:
            "The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights
             and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits 
             prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and 
             democratic society".
However, in Eldridge, after hearing ample evidence, the Supreme Court ruled that there was a violation of Section 15 (1), and it could not be saved under Section 1 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. More specifically, the Court ruled that sign language interpreters must be provided in the delivery of medical services, where doing so is necessary to ensure effective communication between the patient and health care professionals. According to the Court, since the Canadian government has undertaken to provide the benefit of free healthcare to the public, it must to so in a non-discriminatory way.
This ruling represents a significant milestone for the disabled community, especially the deaf community, as it recognizes and reaffirms their rights at the highest court in the country.
Rolling with the unstoppable Ruth Hurst
JC Sulzenko
Photo: Ruth HurstThe diminutive woman wheeled her chair to register for the 5K race in the 2015 Run for Reach. On her lap sat a dappled and sociable Dachshund. “Hello, I’m Ruth Hurst. This is Monty. He’s trained to detect five kinds of cancer, as well as epilepsy before seizures happen. In Spring 2015, he came in the top 5 out of 1000 nominations for the Purina Hall of Fame, because he’d saved my life.” Those words and his name hooked me! This is what Ruth told me about her life.
Perhaps it all began with her love for dogs. With her family and then on her own, Ruth ran Merry Tails Kennels from 1989 to 2013, starting with Cocker Spaniels.  From an early age, she was interested in expanding the availability of service dogs beyond traditional guide dogs for the visually impaired.
“In around 1988, I was among the first to offer therapy dogs in nursing homes. I was the first to bring a dog into the then General Hospital in 1990. “As of 1992, she was working with dogs to address issues related autism and seizures.
“I see a service animal as one trained for specific needs to aid in the daily functioning of a person, but only guide dogs for the visually impaired were allowed on Ottawa buses.” In 2002, Ruth lobbied the city to allow all service dogs on OC Transpo. “In 2003, our wheel-chair assist Cocker was the first non-seeing-eye dog to be given a bus pass.  When I discovered that Para Transpo did not recognize such a pass, I returned to the mayor who was pro service dogs, which led to a bylaw to permit all service dogs on all Ottawa city buses.
Ruth took on the City again when she learned the municipality offered a stipend for the care of Seeing Eye dogs but not for other service dogs. “At that point, the City also only recognized service dogs trained and registered in the USA.  With the help of West End Legal Services, we went to a hearing in December 2013. In March 2015, we were successful. Now all Ottawa-based service dogs, including those bred, born and trained in Canada, are entitled to the stipend.”
How did Ruth come to address other issues related to accommodation and access?
Ruth had trained first as an ambulance attendant and served as a paramedic and paramedic instructor over the course of twenty-two years. “I was the first woman in Canada to train in basic and advance auto extraction,” she notes.  Then in 2002, she had an accident: She fell fifty feet.
MDs told her she wouldn’t live. After she survived the accident, she was advised she would never walk.  She underwent three major surgeries in a 24-hour period to put two rods in her spine, two plates and 24 screws in her right pelvis and 2 plates and 13 screws in her right ankle. “For four months, I could not walk at all and had no feeling below the waist. Some mobility returned over the next two months, and a lot of hard work at the Ottawa Rehabilitation Centre went on for another two years. I had four other surgeries (an artificial hip and femur) from 2008 through 2012, which brings me to where I am today: I can now walk unaided for short distances, though with some nerve pain.”
She received many transfusions during this period. “Routine blood work in 2012 discovered that I had contracted Hepatitis C. I found out I could not take the medication of their choice because of my epilepsy, and that OHIP would not cover newer drugs. I was told I had about two years to live. From then till now, I lobbied the government to give me access to the treatment I need to survive.” The treatment started finally in June.
That’s not all she had to deal with, though. “In March 2014, Monty barked me awake to alert me to a problem with my heart. That’s how he saved my life. An ambulance took me and Monty to the General Campus.  He was in the arms of a nurse at my side through the whole the procedure.”
“I had decided that neither ‘Hep’ C nor any other condition would slow me down. I learned to consider myself not as an invalid! Rather, I’d spend the time I have left giving back to the community. “How? By entering 5K racing events that fundraise for worthy causes in our community.  
Her first race took place in September 2014. In a manual wheelchair, she participated in The Army Run. There she ran with Beth Fields, who had lost her son. With Beth’s help, Ruth came in 4th in her age category in the ‘sick and injured class, ‘to the cheers of other runners, firemen and cadets. “I loved the experience but was bothered by having to compete in the ‘ill/injured category.”
She wanted to take part in a para-category, only available at that point in two local events. She believes that such races should welcome and accommodate para-athletes. “I think of myself as an athlete, not as a token, disabled participant, “she declares.
In her second race, The MADD Dash, she finished first.
She has never looked back. Even when faced with the terminal condition, Ruth committed to entering 15 fundraising races, walks or hikes in 2015.
“I want to encourage folks, no matter what disability, to come out and join in. If I can do it, anyone can. Since I am in Stage 4 of the disease, I know anything can happen before, during or after treatment. I don’t want to sit at home. What I am campaigning for is that routes and road closures enable participation of wheelchair and handcycle athletes.”
For that she knew she had to find better vehicles, to train, and to campaign actively to participate in racing events. “Many courses for local runs and hikes initially were not wheelchair or handcycle-friendly. I had to ask to be allowed in.”
She now owns three handcycles, which she powers with one hand, since her left hand is paralyzed, and her left arm has reduced sensitivity. With support from the Challenged Athletes Foundation and the Handcycle Club of Canada, she has obtained top-end machines, most recently a “Force 3” handcycle, which is made of rolled aluminum.  She says she’ll be the first person in Canada to race one.
As of the end of July, Ruth has taken part in fourteen fund-raising events this year for such causes as cancer, heart and stroke and diabetes care and research, and for such organizations as the Ottawa Hospital, Ottawa Hospice, Ottawa Mission, Soldiering On, Salvation Army, and Ottawa Rehabilitation Centre.
Her best time for the 5K was in the CN Cycle for CHEO, five minutes less than in her Run for Reach debut in April when she clocked 25:46 minutes. (Ruth most generously purchased 1st, 2nd and 3rd place ribbons and medals for next year’s Run for Reach winners, including for a para-category.)
 Photo of Ruth at Reach Run
There’s only one race left before Ruth meets her 15-race commitment this year. “The Commonwealth Run has just welcomed me to the August 22 event. I love that this course at The Aviation Museum will be my 15th event of the year.“
After reading Ruth’s story, can anyone doubt that she is both irrepressible and ‘unstoppable?’ Go Ruth go!

Stay In The Know!

Resources for Parents with Disabilities
Annie Zhuang,
JD Candidate University of Ottawa 

Local resources for parents with disabilities are limited for the Ottawa region. However, various online resources offer valuable information and support, covering issues from family planning to raising adolescents and peer support.

Parents with a Disability Network (PDN)
Centre for Independent Living in Toronto (CILT) runs a resource and support network providing peer support and information-sharing for parents and prospective parents with a disability. PDN offers literature, workshops and social events. Books can be ordered online by emailing
peers@cilt.ca, but the events are held in Toronto. 

The DisAbled Women’s Network (DAWN)

Organization assisting all women with disabilities. DAWN has produced several texts on relevant issues, including mothering with disability. Links to other useful resources are available. 


Ottawa Independent Living Resource Centre (OILRC)

Organization assisting people with disabilities in the Ottawa community. Programs are aimed to promote general independence and empowerment, but services are available for people with disabilities to establish peer contacts to reduce isolation, share skills, information and support. OILRC also has a research and service development aimed at identify and responding to unmet needs of people with disabilities. 

Through the Looking Glass (TLG)
U.S. based, nationally recognized centre that has pioneered research, training and services for families in which a member has as disability or medical issue. TLG has an alphabetized list of online resources that provide information on parenting with disabilities. 

Canada Court Watch 
Independent website that researches and posts case law that can be used by parents in court to address common abuses by Ontario’s Children’s Aid Societies, including abuse of disabled parents.  Information shared on this site are not “legal advice” and should be assessed with caution. 


Stay Tuned!

Reach Canada looks forward to welcoming December 3, International Day of Persons with Disabilities. We would be pleased to book speakers for Federal and Provincial Government offices through our Advanced Seminar Series Program. Please contact Joanne Silkauskas  at Reach Canada for more information on speaking at our seminars!
AccessAbility Day 2015
Grace Kang, JD Candidate University of Ottawa
The City of Ottawa held its 12th annual AccessAbility Day event at City Hall on May 29, 2015. Councillor Shad Qadri started the opening ceremony as Master of Ceremonies and Mayor Jim Watson kicked off the event with his proclamation of AccessAbility Day 2015. Workshops were available during morning and afternoon sessions and offered topics such as Accessibility and Complete Streets: Bicycle and Pedestrian Design Consultation, Accessibility Design Standards Presentation, Accessibility in City Parks, Play Spaces and Rest Areas Consultation, and Training Highlights Session on the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), Accessible Customer Service Standard. Ottawa residents, experts, and advocates who share an interest in accessibility were encouraged to attend the event and contribute their ideas in the workshop discussions.
Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) is a legislation that was enacted in 2005 to achieve accessibility for Ontarians with disabilities by January 1, 2025. The legislation mandates the development, implementation and enforcement of provincial accessibility standards with respect to goods, services, facilities, accommodation, employment, buildings, and structures. The AODA compels the involvement of persons of disabilities as representatives of the Government of Ontario, industries, and various sectors of the economy to develop accessibility standards.

Attending AccessAbility Day was a motivating and educational experience. The Accessible Customer Service Training Highlights session particularly underlined the misconceptions that persons with disabilities face every day. For instance, not every person with a particular type of disability requires the same type of accommodation. A more particular example would be that one person who has a hearing disability will need the same accommodation as every other person with a hearing disability. Disabilities must be accommodated to the particular individual, not to the particular type of disability. Hero worship, a hyper-elevated perception of people with disabilities, was also another common misconception. The view that persons with disabilities are able to get up in the morning and face another day is simply amazing diminishes disability rights as it degrades the sense of agency and independence for persons with disabilities. Commonly used language when describing persons with disabilities can also be problematic. Words such as being ‘afflicted’, ‘stricken’ or ‘suffering’ from an illness, having ‘difficulties’ with learning or being ‘confined’ to a wheelchair depicts less than a full participatory membership of people with disabilities in our society and dilutes the capabilities of individuals with disabilities.

The significance of treating persons with disabilities as one would with persons without disabilities may seem obvious. However, until we start to be conscious of the damaging effects of the prevalent language and stereotypes regarding persons with disabilities a true accommodation and understanding cannot be possible. Initiatives such as Accessibility Day embody the principles of the AODA and promote dignity, independence, integration and equality of opportunity for every Ontarian.
Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, SO 2005, c 11. 


What is DF?

Adults in Ontario with a physical disability can hire and pay their own attendants to assist with their routines. The money goes directly to the person with the disability – there is no agency.

A person is eligible for the DF program if he or she:

  • is at least 16 years old;
  • requires attendant services as a result of a permanent physical disability; 
  • requires the attendant services referred to in at least two of 1) to 8) and at least one of them is from 1) to 4) of the following:

1) turning in bed, lifting, positioning or transferring;
2) washing, bathing, showering, shaving or personal grooming;
3) dressing or undressing;
4) catheterization, emptying and changing a leg bag, using the toilet, urination or bowel routines;
5) breathing, or caring for a tracheotomy or respiratory equipment;
6) eating;
7) meal preparation, dish washing, laundry or other housekeeping tasks; and
8) essential communication.

Included in the 7 hours that are available on DF (for numbers 1 to 8 above) are:

  • Looking after one’s skin, feminine hygiene needs, colostomy/ileostomy; minor equipment maintenance Transfers to and from a vehicle, routine exercises, taking meds, changing non sterile dressings
  • Nurturing assistance
  • Doctor/medical appointments
  • Groceries and errands
  • Assistance at the workplace for washroom and lunch

DF allows 7 hours per day PLUS:

  • Tracheotomy, ventilator or assistance to maintain an airway that cannot be covered under the typical 7 hours
  • Emergency/back up shifts
  • Overnight shifts
  • Illness coverage
  • Attendant travel to work
  • Life Line or similar product
  • Purchase of service for special circumstances (infrequent only)
  • Option of keeping professional services from CCAC
  • Vacation

How to apply? Contact:
Jessica Ayoub
Ottawa Independent Living Resource Centre
214 Montreal Road
Ottawa, ON K1L 8L8
Phone 613-236-2558 Ext #227 Fax (613) 236-4562

Visit the new DF website: www.dfontario.ca

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