A Saint John woman says she has not received proper service for her wheelchair since the provincial government hired the Red Cross to supply equipment to disabled New Brunswickers.

Kaitlyn Layden, 25, says since the contract came into effect in January 2015, her wheelchair has not been fixed properly or on time.

She said when the Red Cross first took over, she had an issue with her seat that took more than a month to fix.

"Basically they were ill-prepared to do the job," she said. "They ended up making my chair, just the wrong way. They didn't use the right equipment."

Layden used it until it began to bother her back. She says her occupational therapist finally had to intervene to get a seat that was appropriate for her needs.


Saint John-Lancaster PC MLA Dorothy Shephard says she's heard from other people having the same issues as Layden. (CBC)

She had the same problem this year when the spring on the brace that supports her back got broken.

She says she phoned the Red Cross on July 20 and they came out on July 26 and confirmed the piece needed to be repaired. But this week, she heard from them again.

"They had called in yesterday [Aug. 2]  that they needed to measure the part that needed to be replaced. So that means it's not even ordered yet."

Not repaired locally

Before the province's contract with the Red Cross, Layden says she could go to a vendor right in the city when her chair needed repairs.

Now she has to wait for someone from Moncton to do the work.

"I had a great relationship with the people and I felt like my needs came first and I was important, not just a number."

According to Dorothy Shephard, PC MLA for Saint John Lancaster, Layden isn't the only one having difficulty. She says she's heard from others.

"If repairs aren't given in a timely fashion their whole quality of life is affected. I was given stories about how the services were not happening in a timely fashion or incorrect parts were being put on wheelchairs or the experience didn't seem to be there," said Shephard.

She says people unhappy with the help they're getting don't have the option to go anywhere else as they are stuck with one service provider.

2 year contract

The province hired the Canadian Red Cross for a two-year renewable contract to supply equipment to disabled New Brunswickers. 


Dan Bedell, spokesperson for the Canadian Red Cross in the Atlantic region, says all clients' issues are addressed quickly.

Dan Bedell, communications director for the Canadian Red Cross in the Atlantic region, said in an email to CBC News his organization works closely with the Department of Social Development, the N.B. Association of Occupational Therapists and the clients themselves to ensure any issues are addressed quickly.

"For clients, an occasional concern might be the time taken to complete a specific repair to a wheelchair, or other medical aid, but these are done as quickly as possible, barring unforeseen delays such as a vital replacement part being back-ordered or perhaps a warranty issue that we need to check," Bedell said.

CBC News contacted the Department of Social Development but no one was available for comment.

The New Brunswick Association of Occupational Therapists opposed the contract before it was signed, saying it would put the province's most vulnerable citizens at risk.