Ontario man ramping up battle against ‘age-discrimination’ in post-stroke recovery

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WATCH ABOVE: An Ontario stroke survivor says he used to think everyone was treated equally, until he found out age plays a role in how much government-funded therapy you qualify for. He’s taking Queen’s Park to task on it, with the help of the opposition. Christina Stevens reports – Sep 29, 2016

It’s been six years since Jim McEwen had a major stroke. The 61-year-old said his recovery has been hampered by a lack of help from the government.

He went to Queen’s Park, along with several other post-stroke patients, in an effort to convince politicians they deserve the same post-stroke therapy as anyone else, regardless of age.

He used to think everyone was treated equally until he found out he was not eligible for the same amount of government-funded therapy as those under 20 or over 64.

McEwen is supporting a private member’s bill to end what they call “age discrimination.”

“In order to ensure that any treatment recommended by a physician for a post-stroke recovery patient is provided to that patient regardless of their age,” Lorne Coe, the PC MPP behind Bill 9, said.

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READ MORE: Some Canadians misunderstanding stroke recovery process, says report 

It’s a bit of a déjà vu. The opposition brought up the issue about a year-and-a-half ago.

Transcripts show then, the minister of health responded: “This is an issue that my ministry is, and as been for some time, working on.”

All parties voted to extend post-stroke recovery services to those aged 20 through 64. However, critics said since then nothing has changed.

Global News took it up with Health Minister Eric Hoskins in June.

“That’s what I began our discussion with, is that 250 locations around the province for publicly funded physio,” said Hoskins at the time.

READ MORE: Ontario man claims age discrimination is barring him from post-stroke treatment 

McEwen said to prove he doesn’t qualify, he called more than a dozen of the locations at random.

Each time he was told a person has to be 65 to qualify for the government-funded therapy.

“The final clinic I called they said, ‘Well, there’s no sense in you calling more clinics because the policy applies to all clinics across Ontario,'” McEwen explained.

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The minister was not at the debate. He was away on government business in Ottawa.

A spokesperson provided a statement about how helpful the community based clinics have been, but didn’t explain why the minister would imply everyone can access them.

The private member’s bill passed second reading to go to a Standing Committee.

Still, McEwen said even if the bill ever becomes a reality, it likely won’t be in time to help him.

“We are not doing this for just for us ourselves. We are doing this for the future stroke patients of Ontario.”

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