Disability Alert leader worried by silence on issues

Ron Ryder
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The leader of a group that advocates for the rights of the disabled is getting restless over his issues disappearance from the provincial election agenda.

Stephen Pate of Disability Alert has spent much of the election season on his own Campaign of Hope going to political events and presenting politicians with material arguing to an improvement to the provinces Disability Support Program.

Early in the campaign, Pate said he wasnt terrifically impressed by either the Conservative pledge to keep the funding promised in Aprils budget or by the Liberal vow to make the Island disability tax credits match the federal credit.

But since then hes been worried about what he sees as silence on the issue.

In the legislature, there was time when the issues of disability came up on nine ... days, he said.

And it wasnt just the DSP, they were talking about learning disabilities about support in schools and communities. People were really digging into this. Basically now its nothing.

Pate said he thought he had some success when he called a recent radio debate and got the leaders of the Islands four political parties to lay out their disability plans in concrete terms.

He said the final days of the campaign may not be auspicious for his cause.

This week was supposed to be about social issues and

the two main parties said theyd have announcements on disability supports, Pate said.

Now with the poll results and it looking like there could be a change in government, they may shift priorities. There might be someone saying disability affects 14 per cent of the population, but we need an issue that affects 70 per cent.

Are we going to get these people deciding to take the time to talk about disability in what is looking like a chaotic last week? I dont know. I hope so.

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