A New Brunswick Advocacy group says parties vying for seats in parliament aren’t doing enough for voters living with disabilities.
The NB Coalition of Persons with Disabilities (NBCPD) compiled information found in party platforms and reached out to representatives to build a so-called ‘report card’, with the intention of grading their findings.
In the end — no party walked away with an A.
The Coalition says they’re disappointed but not surprised.
“It’s almost like they say ‘well, you’ve got disabled parking spots so you guys have got everything you need.’ No, not even close,” says Shelley Petit, the Coalition’s chair.
She says the majority of the parties contacted by the group didn’t even respond to their questions, or offered responses deemed unsatisfactory.
In the end, the report card graded the Liberals, Conservatives, NDP and Green Party.
The Liberals getting a B+, Conservatives a D, NDP a B- and Greens a D as well.
NBCPD backed up their grades with platform points deemed relevant under the headings of Income and Employment, Housing, Pharmacare, Transit and Health — along with a few notes.
Petit hoping those living with a disability read their report — as well as their friends and families — before casting their vote.
“We make up 26.7 per cent of the New Brunswick population and 21 per cent of the Canadian population,” she says.
“When our needs are met, everyone’s needs are met.”
A study released by the non-profit Angus Reid Institute Tuesday seemingly backed up a lot of the points in the NBCPD report card, finding one-third of the Canadian population (or 34 per cent) unable to identify a party they believe has the best policies to support those living with disabilities.
And Kaitlyn Layden, who lives with Cerebral Palsy, says researching the party platforms alone might not be enough to change that.
“Policies aren’t transparent and they’re hard to understand,” she says.
“You shouldn’t need a master’s degree. It shouldn’t take a coalition to come along for common knowledge to be shared.”
Layden, who helped put together the NBCPD report card, says a document like it is overdue — having put in countless hours of research before each of her own trips to the polls.
Now hoping it comes in handy for someone else living with a disability.
“Everyone has the right to vote, whether they can get out or not,” she says.
The Coalition’s full report card can be found in pdf form here.