As a physiotherapist, I have a duty to provide my clients with the best available treatment. In 99% of the cases I have, especially for my clients dealing with a neurological condition or injury, the “best available treatment” includes education about their condition and how to best re-integrate into society.
I recently became aware of two excellent programs available in Canada for the disability community, thanks to the wonderful people at Easter Seals.
1) Access 2 Entertainment Card
Launched in 2005, this card allows its 31,000+ users increased access to entertainment and recreational opportunities at participating venues. The cardholder will receive free access or a significant discount for a support person if one is required while out in the community. My clients love this program, and the $20 application fee is easily recouped within 1-2 uses of the card. The card is accepted at most theatres across Canada and a selection of attractions. Click here to access the application form and see a list of participating venues; click here to read more about this program.
2) Disability Travel Card
This card provides free travel for support personnel travelling with a person with a disability. The application states that “A support person is an individual who accompanies a person with a disability to provide those services that are not provided by transportation industry employees, such as assisting the person with eating, administering medication, communication and use of the facilities.” As a cardholder, one has access to travel deals when travelling with Greyhound, Via Rail Canada, Coach Canada, and Motor Coach Canada. Click here to access the application.
Guess what, your government cares about you too! Here are two programs that the good people in Ottawa have helped create:
3) Disability Tax Credit / Child Disability Benefit
Intended for those with severe and prolonged impairment (physical or mental). Access the Disability Tax Credit application here and learn more about child and family benefits here. If you are working, there is also the Working Income Tax Benefit Disability Supplement. Anything that helps you recoup your hard-earned money from the government, is a great program in my books.
4) Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP)
According the the ODSP website, this program helps people with disabilities who are in financial need pay for living expenses, like food and housing. The program provides eligible people with both financial and employment support. In short, if you don’t make enough money to meet your basic needs, ODSP can help supplement your income and provide other health benefits; and if you have a disability and can work and want to work, ODSP helps you reach your employment goals – even if it’s to start your own business.
It is very important to note that each of these programs requires documentation from authorized medical professionals to confirm your disability. Both the Access2Entertainment card and the Travel card require the health professional to be actively involved in any treatment for your disability.
Also note that there are many local programs across Canada and the United States not mentioned here. An internet search for programs in your community should yield all available resources. As an example, BCFerries offers travel discounts for BC residents with a permanent disability.
If you know of any good programs that you or a loved one have benefited from, please comment on this post with the details so that others may benefit as well.