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Disability Awareness Week

Mr. Speaker, this Assembly has a vision of strong individuals, families and communities sharing in the benefits and responsibilities of a unified, environmentally sustainable and prosperous Northwest Territories. Our vision includes persons with disabilities.

June 4th to 8th is Disability Awareness Week in the Northwest Territories. Each year, Disability Awareness Week gives us an opportunity to celebrate and recognize the contributions persons with disabilities make to our communities in spite of the many challenges they may face every day. This year’s theme is Broadening our Acceptance, Through Accessibility.

Most of us take accessibility for granted.  Access to a service, building or business is not something we think about; unless we don’t have access.

Accessibility means access to educational opportunities, employment or recreation.

It also means access to medical facilities and services, churches and grocery stores.

Accessibility means people with disabilities can participate in the aspects of daily life that most of us take for granted.

It means the world to the person who needs it.

Mr. Speaker, the Department of Health and Social Services will continue to work with the Health Authorities and stakeholders to improve the quality of life of Northerners with disabilities by providing the appropriate access to sustainable programs and services.

Everybody has the right to live with dignity. Providing funding that gives opportunities for people with disabilities so that they can live more independently and contribute to their communities is important. The services that we offer through the Health and Social Services Authorities include home care, where home support workers provide assistance with personal care, light house work, and meal preparation. Respite services that are offered through the home care program provide temporary relief for families taking care of their loved ones who have disabilities. We also provide funding for supportive living. Supportive Living helps adults 19 and over with assistance to promote their independence, dignity, personal choices and being involved in the community through the provision of residential services and a day program.

The Department of Health and Social Services supports the work of the NWT Disabilities Council, the NWT Autism Society, the Yellowknife Association for Community Living, the YWCA, the Canadian National Institute for the Blind and the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association.

These organizations all provide invaluable support to persons with disabilities, promote inclusion and independence; and, help to meet the needs and rights of persons with disabilities.  I want to acknowledge the staff of these organizations for their excellent work and their commitment to persons with disabilities.

Mr. Speaker, we also recognize the family members and volunteers who play a significant role in the care of NWT residents with disabilities.

To highlight NWT Disability Awareness Week, I am pleased to host the annual Tea in the Great Hall.  This is an opportunity to acknowledge the staff, volunteers and businesses that work to improve the quality of life for persons with disabilities in the NWT. Their efforts make a real difference.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.