Thursday, May 22, 2014

Doug Ford and the Group Home

When I was growing up, my brother Bruce and I played with the other kids in the neighbourhood.  Nobody treated me any differently or teased me about my disability.  I was simply Bruce Abbott's kid sister Annie.

In my late teens, I remember Mom telling me that Mrs Betz (the mother of Terry, Greg, and Douglas, who lived across the street from us) told her that she had been very glad that her boys had grown up being friends with me. Mrs Betz thought that it had made them more understanding and accepting of  the fact that everybody, despite their diffeences, had value, and thus, must be respected.

I felt angry and hurt, and yes, even a little scared when I heatd that Doug Ford had made a public statement that he thought a Rexdale group home for kids with autism and other developmental disabilities be shut down because it was damaging the value of the property in that area.  ( )

Councillor Ford went further and said that the group home and its residents (only two residents live there at the moment, with the capacity of a whopping huge number of five!) were "ruining the neighbourhood" and that if it were possible to do so he would buy the home just so he could evict the people who lived there. Saving the property value, in Ford's eyes, is much, much more important than connecting with these kids and helping them integrate into society.

Of course, there is no mention of what would happen to the residents if the group home were to be closed down.  I have visions, however, of these people being shut away in an attic, like in  the Victorian era. Or worse, being put in institutions.  Out of sight out of mind, right Douggie  boy? Anything you don't understand, or fear, or lowers that precious property value simply has to go!

It really upset me when I learned about Doug Ford's callous comments regarding the group home residents. However, I was truly horrified to hear that there were people calling in to CBC radio who actually agreed with Ford's perspective.  Where were these people's compassion and empathy for their fellow human beings?  Was it really just all about money now?

I need to believe that this is not so.  I need to believe that people still care about othes. If not, my worse fears will come true.  Institutions that have recently been closed down due to yeas and years of abuse will be re-opened. People potential will be lost, never to be imagined because of the mentality of  "We are we, They are they."

As I read about Doug Ford's plan to close the group home, I could hear in my head Scrooge saying, "Are there no jails? Are there no work houses?"

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