Vancouver dog trainer Tessa Schmidt denied wheelchair funding

A Vancouver woman with a debilitating disorder is being prevented from replacing her broken power wheelchair because of an apparent funding technicality.

Government says Schmidt, who has spastic cerebral palsy, can't replace broken chair until June

Tessa Schmidt recently started a dog training business, and is worried how she will keep it going while she waits for funding to replace her broken power wheelchair. (CBC)

A Vancouver woman with a debilitating disorder is being prevented from replacing her broken power wheelchair because of a funding technicality.

Tessa Schmidt has spastic cerebral palsy, and has required a power wheelchair to get around since she was three years old. A few months ago, however, her chair broke down. She tried to get it fixed, but the problems kept coming back.

"It started to slow down and speed up on its own accord, which if you're in a power chair is a very dangerous situation to be in," said Schmidt near her low-income suite in Olympic Village.

Schmidt tried to get the Ministry of Social Development, which provides her chair, to replace it. She learned a few days ago, however, she is not yet eligible.

"They got back to me on Thursday saying, 'You're not due for another power chair until June. Wait 'til then,'" said Schmidt.

Denied chair funding on technicality

Schmidt says the Ministry only replaces chairs every five years, and her chair is still a few months shy of that.

She is currently using a manual chair, but is concerned about how she will cope until June — especially since she just started a new dog training business called Leash of Hope.

"If someone cuts off your legs and said, 'Good luck getting to work' — you still had to go to work, you still had to do this, you still had to go grocery shopping — how would you do it?" said Schmidt.

"I'm just starting to pull my life together and to not be able to go to meetings and potential clientele, and I volunteer at Sunny Health Centre, and just everything. It's putting a stall on everything right now."

CBC News asked the Ministry of Social Development if an exception could be made in Schmidt's case. It said it could not look into the specifics because it is the weekend. It also could not confirm why Schmidt was denied funding for the chair.

With files from CBC's Farrah Merali


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