Wheelchair access a problem in Montreal
Published Tuesday, September 14, 2010 12:57PM EDT
A group of activists spent the weekend evaluating a number of buildings in the city to see if they could accommodate people with disabilities, and said they weren't surprised by the disappointing results.
To point out some of the challenges people with disabilities face everyday, the Regroupement des Activistes pour Inclusion au Quebec and Action Femmes Handicappes de Montreal decided to check out more than 100 commercial establishments. On Sunday, they focused on Masson St. in Rosemont.
"The problem isn't my wheelchair, it's the infrastructure," said Laurence Parent, as others in wheelchairs struggled to navigate crumbling sidewalks, and maneuver their way up inadequate ramps.
Parent, a PhD student, said something as simple as going out for a coffee is a monumental obstacle.
"It's really weird because we have this strong public system -- for example my wheelchair is covered by the Regie d'assurance maladie du Quebec -- but I cannot go anywhere. It doesn't make sense."
The group was accompanied by some Quebec politicians, including Bloc Quebecois MP Bernard Bigras and Quebec Solidaire leader Francoise David -- who each volunteered to sit a wheelchair and see what it's like to get around.
"Oh, it's incredible. I thought I understood the situation of handicapped people, but I realize this morning that it is worse than I thought," said David.
The team passed out letters advising merchants of the problems they noted with accessibility, but in most parts of Montreal, there are no laws in place to them to make any changes.