Case for Support
What does Equity, Diversity, Belonging, and Inclusion (EDBI) really mean?
Most of us are becoming familiar with the concepts of Equity Diversity Belonging and Inclusion from what we have been observing from mainstream media. From the calls to action for our Indigenous hosts to the Black Lives Matter movement we are learning the lessons of how to make the world a place where the contribution of every member of society is valued, honoured, and respected. Where justice and fairness are expectations. Where safety – physical or emotional – is a given. Where belonging is the norm. However, for many, this vision is still far from reality. The definition of ‘Accessibility’ has always included the essence of EDBI, however it is not spotlighted the same way nor with the same urgency.
For Canadians living with disabilities who continue to face barriers such as access to mobility devices and other basic equipment for daily living, access to medical supplies, and even access to necessary specialized health care providers from doctors to personal support workers, the concept of EDBI is just that, a concept and nothing more. For many people living with a spinal cord injury this means that they are denied the basic rights implied in full citizenship in our province and our country. Even as we approach the deadline for the AODA commitment to a fully accessible Ontario in 2025, we are nowhere near having set the necessary standards for accessibility nor have we seen tangible translation into legislation.
At SCIO, we firmly believe that this is unacceptable, and we are ready to fight to have this message heard. This is not the Canada or the Ontario that we expect or deserve. It is time for action. It is time for inclusion for everyone.
We need changes in practice, policy, and legislation, we need different models of funding and support, we need to build networks of informed professionals to provide the expertise that people with a spinal cord injury need and deserve. For this we need voices. We need to mobilize communities of passionate advocates to take the government to task and hold our leaders and decision makers accountable.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead
The answer to this problem is advocacy – the push for systemic change from the top down and bottom up. We need to be able to make change now and in the future. We need to be prepared and equipped to respond to issues as they arise in real time. We need to be in a constant state of readiness.
Our plan is to build a team of 500 advocates across the province (in every MPP riding). We will support this team to become effective activists for change through communication and mobilization. We will leverage our 75-year history to harness their lived experience with a spinal cord injury to contribute to positive social change. We will show them how to use their voice to be heard for the benefit of all Ontarians with a disability. Through the mobilization of this effort, we will be able to transition our ideas to practice change and policy change.
To support this vital work, we will need to develop solid communications infrastructure and provide organizational leadership and direction. To build this capacity we will need to fund:
- Recruitment and training materials
- Website development and ongoing content maintenance
- Continuous content development and management of social media and traditional communications channels
- Staff – recruiters, trainers, volunteer management, communications professionals, and government relations leadership
Part of our strategic plan is to continue to build and leverage the power of other disability organizations. We know that there is strength in numbers. We currently play a leadership role in a consortium of disability-related groups and organizations involved in a number of grassroots movements. However, for our specific advocacy efforts we do need to maintain a focus on SCIO’s mission and goals. It is our plan to strategize on the problem spaces that are germane to our community, to develop timelines for action and then mobilize our community and partners in pursue these goals.
We are seeking a base budget of $400k for this effort.
If we have learned nothing more over the past months, we have learned that the marginalized have been disproportionately impacted by the challenges that we have all faced. This has made it clear that we need to create change now that will bring the spinal cord injury and larger disability community to the forefront of political thought and will. We need to make sure that the community is heard. We cannot be a forgotten conversation. We need to make sure that the government understands the true cost of their inaction with regard to accessibility in its broadest sense of EDBI including – the financial, social and personal costs. The time has come to bring Equity Diversity Belonging and Inclusion to the disability conversation.
The Call to Action
We invite you to join us in this exciting movement – this opportunity to make real systemic changes that are necessary for people with spinal cord injuries to have the fair and appropriate access to medical care and assistive devices in barrier-free communities in which they can thrive and participate fully. We respectfully request a gift to support our advocacy efforts. If you would prefer, your gift can be pledged over a period of time/years.
We will be pleased to discuss recognition of your generous support.