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Austerity and the developmentally disabled

by Frédéric T. Muckle March 3, 2015
Austerity and the developmentally disabled

Montrealers bring attention to the perils of being disabled in a time of lesser opportunity
Tuesday protest

On Tuesday, Feb. 24, a protest organized by the Comité régional des associations pour la déficience intellectuelle (CRADI) took place near metro Place d’Armes and around the the Ministère de l’Emploi et de la Solidarité Sociale (MESS). CRADI is a coalition of Montreal-based organizations working for the rights and well-being of people dealing with developmental disabilities. The group of about 40 people peacefully walked up Saint-Urbain St. chanting, making a stop in front of the Palais de justice and the main building of MESS.

There was some resistance from the security staff of the building, but after a short and slightly heated argument the group was allowed to remain inside and to proceed with a song composed for the occasion by the Gang à Rambrou choir, an organization that provides art and performance workshops to people with developmental disabilities.

The protesters notably advocated for social and professional inclusion of people with disabilities, for example by providing them with job opportunities. Olivier Martin, coordinator of the Mouvement des Personnes Handicapées pour l’Accès des Services (PHAS), advocated in his speech for a stop to austerity measures that hurt organizations helping people with disabilities.

He made it clear that cuts make it more difficult for people that truly need and deserve the kind of help provided and promoted by organizations such as PHAS. “Cutting [the funding]…is to expose the people in a situation of handicap to poverty, vulnerability, and to isolation and exclusion,” Martin said.

Martin also stressed the fact that for the organizations and their employees, the cuts meant fewer people would be able to have access to employment. “The gel … makes it so that there are people that could work, but that end up not working.”

Mathieu Francoeur, another member of the PHAS movement who was present at the protest, explained that Tuesday’s march was part of “protests that we could call more sectorial that defend a specific milieu or a specific kind of people.”

He also mentioned the need for smaller movement like PHAS to take part in the larger movement against austerity that picked up steam this week in province-wide the movement.

“We find it important to include those actions in a more global fight against the neoliberalists, the economic compressions, and all that,” said Francoeur. “I think we need to do both. It’s complimentary.”

For more information on PHAS and their actions, visit mouvementphas.org.

Separated by time and Space but united by purpose: Anti-austerity actions across the city. Photos by Andrej Ivanov, The Concordian.

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