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Town hall planned for Manitobans with disabilities to discuss effect of COVID-19 restrictions

Town hall co-moderator Carlos Sosa. Manitoba League for Persons with Disabilities / Facebook

Although many Manitobans have been excited about the recent loosening of some COVID-19 pandemic restrictions by the province, some people feel they’ve been left behind when it comes to reopening plans.

The Manitoba League of Persons with Disabilities (MLPD) will be putting on a digital town hall Tuesday night, where people can raise their concerns about how they’ve been affected by the changes.

Carlos Sosa, a support worker and member of Inclusion Winnipeg and Inclusion Canada, will be co-moderating the town hall, and told 680 CJOB many of the issues facing Manitobans with disabilities go hand in hand with poverty and access to resources.

Read more: Ottawa says coronavirus disability grant will be paid Friday after months-long delay

“The people I work with, many of whom live in poverty, have had limited options even before the pandemic,” he said.

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“(They’re) not able to access the internet to reserve books or to access the mental health supports, which are all online right now.

“Obviously, the issues of access to space is so critical. Libraries are critical. They provide programming, they allow people to meet, and with that being closed right now, your options are very limited to participate in the community.”

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Sosa said he understands that the pandemic has made it difficult — if not impossible — for those types of in-person programs to be active at the moment, but the situation is a good example of why more funding is needed for people with disabilities in their daily lives.

“This really echoes the need for increased social assistance rates so people with disabilities could afford computers and the internet so they could participate in events like this,” he said.

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“The gaps that exist in the first place are due to the systemic inequalities of poverty — and also added to it, the society. Physical barriers and also systemic biases, and I see that on a daily basis.

“Many people with disabilities are in poverty through no part of their own and in society we need to do a better job of including people in our communities.”

The town hall, co-moderated by Sosa and MLPD chair Whitney Hodgins, takes place online Tuesday at 7 p.m.

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