Article from CBC News Canada

Voting to put someone into office can fill a person with plenty of emotions and questions.

The average person, when picking a candidate to vote for, will listen for and most likely hear the go-to phrases — things like “I will lower taxes” or “I will hire more police.” That is all fine and dandy, but what do the stock phrases mean to a disabled person?

Take lower taxes. Just sit back and think about that for a second. It really does nothing. A fair number of people with disabilities cannot have a regular job or own property. So paying lower taxes is not always top of mind.

When this is stated in a campaign speech, people who are disabled feel like they are getting a bathmat for Christmas. It’s a nice idea, but it isn’t going to make a big difference.

Increasing public transit is also an awesome idea. But is putting more buses or taxis on the street going to make a difference to someone who can’t use either? We need enhanced Handi Transit services at affordable prices.

Or how about the minimum wage? Lately it has been going up more and more, as the cost of living goes up. That’s awesome! But people who are on income assistance do not get the same increase.

Vote or eat?

People with disabilities have been pushed into the shadows and always looked at with that “cockeyed look” by people in power.  Most candidate platforms I hear deal with mainstream issues. But politicians need to realize they have to represent all people, even the disabled.

Maybe they should try to live on less than $4 a day for their daily food budget. That is what I, a single male, get from income assistance. Can you please tell me how a person can live off that?

Starving people? Shouldn’t that be one of the first things a candidate would want to tackle?  I think so. So if these candidates want to win a mandate, some of their votes will come from people taking Handi-Transit’s van to the polling station. Where I live, the that costs $4 one way. That’s $8, which means that I will not be able to eat for awhile. But hey, at least they got my vote.

Handshakes and smiles can go a long way in a politician’s run for office, but give people the ability to eat, and you’ll be amazed at what can happen. No more “smiling & nodding” for the ones who are not completely able. It’s time to get a different mindset in political office.

Alex Lytwyn, 28, is from Winnipegosis, Man. He has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair, but he has not felt limited by his disability. He is running for council on Oct. 22 for the Rural Municipality of Mossey River.

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