Coronavirus: Federal panel aims to ensure Canadians with disabilities included in response

The federal government has launched a special advisory group in a bid to ensure Canadians with disabilities are properly included in the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Disability Inclusion Minister Carla Qualtrough announced the group on Friday, saying the outbreak that’s sickened at least 22,000 people across the country has a disproportionate impact on those who are disabled.

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She says underlying medical conditions, discrimination in accessing key services, and additional challenges related to physical distancing measures all place disabled Canadians at greater risk.

The advisory group comprises organization leaders and accessibility advocates covering a range of physical and intellectual disabilities.

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One of the newly named committee members says the pandemic has shone a new light on the ways Canadians with disabilities struggle to gain equal access to everything from government communications to the health care system.

But community members say there needs to be still more action, noting that provincial rather than federal governments handle areas with greater baring on the lives of residents with disabilities.

© 2020 The Canadian Press