Statistics Canada (Stats Can) has run three public survey since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic began shutting down public life in March. None of those surveys has considered the unique concerns of disabled Canadians in the survey questions themselves or even in the demographic information collected at the end of the survey. This is a serious oversight as disabled Canadians and permanent residents have been particularly hard hit by the virus. We are often higher risk of serious infection and the impact of the changes to the day to day running of public life have created additional barriers to disabled people in getting our basic needs met.
During this pandemic, disabled people have had their continued access to food threatened. We have had our continued access to ongoing care threatened. We have seen the impact of years of mismanagement of long-term care facilities create a situation where disabled people and the elderly have are disproportionately the casualties of this disease. This last becoming so bad that the Ontario government is currently dealing with a scathing report from the military who had to be called in to cover staffing shortfalls. On top of all that disabled people are facing potential medical discrimination if we should catch the virus as a result of discriminatory emergency triage protocols.
In the face of all that Canada’s national statistics agency has not seen fit to consider the needs or realities of disabled people. It is as though we do not exist at all.
It should not need to be stated that disabled people matter and that the issues and barriers we face during a national emergency deserve to be considered and studied. We already know from heart breaking stories that disabled people are suffering and being failed during this time. If disabled people must suffer these injustices we at least deserve for them to count as more than heart wrenching anecdotes that people can brush off as isolated incidents.
Disabled people deserve to have a voice as a group that has our own specific and measurable concerns and experiences during this pandemic.
Statistics Canada should be doing better. We deserve to be seen and recognized.
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