From the March-April 2023 issue of News & Letters
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak supports legislation allowing police to forcibly shut down protests in Wales and England, even when the protests aren’t disrupting people’s day-to-day business. The updated Public Order Bill, expected to pass the House of Lords, also grants police the power to shut down a protest based on demonstrations a group has held in the past. Disabled People Against Cuts, Disabled People Direct Action Network, Disability Rights UK, Liberty, UK Uncut and all potential protesters are under threat. The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act makes “unjustifiably noisy protests” a crime. Noisy direct-action protests have raised significant awareness about the disabled, and helped them in their ability to secure rights and stop funding cuts.
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Coumba Ndiaye, a disabled woman who is president of the municipality commission for education, training and local language in Pikine, Senegal, works to ensure access for disabled children to education, appropriate learning materials, healthcare and living accommodations. Coumba also strives for delivery rooms in her city of more than a million people to be accessible for disabled women and for staff to be trained to work with them. When she was in labor over 20 years ago, four health centers refused her admission; the midwife at the fifth hospital assumed she needed a Caesarean without examining her. After her baby was delivered vaginally, thanks to another healthcare worker, Coumba hemorrhaged and landed in a resuscitation room, and the head midwife strongly advised her not to have more children.
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Disabled people in Saskatchewan, struggling to make ends meet, want an increase in their Assured Income for Disability (SAID) benefits. Barrier Free Saskatchewan is demanding accessibility legislation with teeth. Canadian Pension Plan (CPP) benefits are deducted from SAID payments. Recipients who work have their SAID benefits reduced once their annual income reaches $6,000 Canadian. The New Democratic Party, the opposition to the ruling Saskatchewan Party, is demanding increases in SAID benefits, tying future increases to inflation, benefits targeted to those most impoverished and aligning benefits with Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Hundreds have already signed its petition, which also demands that SAID recipients no longer be forced to apply early for CPP benefits, a practice already found discriminatory by the province of Manitoba’s Court of Appeals.