New Brunswick

Summer cancellations hit disabled New Brunswickers hard

The closure of several programs aimed at New Brunswick’s vulnerable population will have an impact, says Ability NB.

Able Sail, Rotary Camp both cancel summer programs

Campers enjoy the water at Camp Rotary on Grand Lake. Regular camp activities won't be offered this summer, mainly because of concerns about safety during the pandemic. (Facebook/Camp Rotary)

COVID-19 has been difficult for everyone and increased isolation across the board, but this is especially true of the people Ability NB helps, says the executive director.

The closure of several programs serving this vulnerable population of New Brunswick will have an impact, Haley Flaro said.

"Camp programs and recreation programs that are adapted for our population are something that people look so much forward to to get out and be active," said Flaro.

"The closure and cancellation of some of these programs, which are necessary to close, is certainly a difficult decision for those groups to make."

Able Sail, a program that offers sailing opportunities for people with physical and mental disabilities, says it is taking the year off because of the pandemic.

Camp Rotary, a summer camp targeted at disabled people, is doing the same.

Unveiling shortfalls

Flaro said COVID-19 has unveiled even more difficulties for disabled people.

"Access to healthy food, the impact of job loss on a family that were relying on the income for health insurance," she said.

"Food, housing, all of those things."

Flaro said it has been difficult to get support to people who need it.

Home support workers were already in short supply, but fears over COVID-19 made it harder to get people into others' homes.

We hear from Haley Flaro with Ability NB about how people with disabilities are dealing with COVID-19 related cancellations and delays, especially the loss of summer programming geared especially for them.  9:22

This extends to the families of disabled people who normally would be there to lend a hand but can't because of the pandemic.

But Flaro said there are still resources available, and groups are working hard to make sure people get what they need.

This includes getting financing from a compassion fund being administered by the United Way in New Brunswick.

"It helped fund food and pre-made meals for our service participants who no longer had someone who could do that for them," Flaro said.

She said studies are already underway about the organization's response to the pandemic.

While results won't be out for a while, a constant theme is that Ability NB needs to be at the table earlier in the process to make sure vulnerable populations have a voice.

"Vulnerable populations didn't get a lot of airtime during this pandemic," said Flaro.

With files from Shift

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