An advocate for people with disabilities says Newfoundland and Labrador needs to change its funding approach to better help people such as Rosemarie Tulk.  


Kelly White is the executive director for the N.L. Coaltion of Persons with Disabilities. (CBC )

Tulk, 50, a double amputee, had applied to Eastern Health to get a power wheelchair and recliner, but she said Eastern Health turned down her application for funding because she would not be suitable for the only recliner chair that they offer.

Tulk said Eastern Health has not explained why she was also turned down for funding for a power wheelchair. 

Kelly White, the executive director for the Coalition of Persons with Disabilities in Newfoundland and Labrador, said Tulk and many other people she works with don't get the help they need. 

"Often times the supports, technology, the assistive devices they require to live independently to make choices and be inclusive in our society are not there for them," said White.

Individual needs looked at in other jurisdictions

Eastern Health told CBC News it approves equipment for people such as Tulk based on several criteria, including age, need and income level.

But White said six other provinces, the United States, and western Australia have a system for funding people with disabilities based on their individual needs.

For example, White said, depending on the person, funding could go towards medical equipment such as a power wheelchair, transportation assistance, or appropriate housing. 

Current approach disincentive to working?

White added that an individualized approach to funding might have helped the Rogers family of Stephenville.

The Rogers were told by the province they would have to pay $2,100 per month for home care for their severely disabled daughter, Kallei, because Kallei's mother, Katrina Rogers, found a full-time job.

"We continue to penalize persons with disabilities and their families," said White.  "It's a disincentive from working."

White said her office gets many calls every day from people with disabilities and their families struggling with government bureaucracy.

She said that until the province makes it easier for people with disabilities to get more appropriate types of assistance, they are going to need advocates. 

"We need to have navigators in the disability community to help people navigate the systems so this level of frustration is not there."