The Current

Meet Friday host disability advocate Ing Wong-Ward

Ing Wong-Ward will be hosting a special Friday edition of The Current focused on the abilities of those with disabilities. She joins Anna Maria in studio to share some details about her advocacy in Friday's show.
Ing-Wong Ward will be hosting a special Friday edition of The Current focused on disability. (Courtesy Centre for Independent Living in Toronto)

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On Friday, The Current brings you a special edition of the program focused on disability with guest host Ing Wong-Ward at the helm — a former longtime CBC producer who is now the associate director at the Centre for Independent Living in Toronto.

Wong-Ward was born with spinal muscular atrophy and uses a motorized wheelchair to get around.

"I think what most people don't realize is how large the population of people [with] disability is in this country," Wong-Ward tells The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti.

"According to Statistics Canada it's about 15 per cent."

Wong-Ward points out that one of the most pressing issues for people with disabilities is 70 per cent are unemployed or underemployed. 

"If you can't participate economically, you're always going to be on the margins."

Wong-Ward says that this issue has been long-discussed with all levels of government and nothing has changed in the past 40 years.

"We have to ask ourselves why," says Wong-Ward.

Watch Ing's video for Project Value — a social media campaign featuring people with disabilities.

Government support varies from province to province but Wong-Ward says support services are "extremely limited."

"There are lots of people across the country who are trying to get by without the proper support and that's a real challenge. How do you participate in your community, whether it's working or not working, if you're not getting the help that you need?"

That's where Federal Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities Carla Qualtrough comes in. The MP is responsible for developing Canada's new accessibility legislation and will be a guest on The Current this Friday.

Other guests include Nujeen Mustafa who fled Syria to Europe in a wheelchair and comedian Josh Blue who uses comedy to look at the reality and challenges of living with a disability.

Wong-Ward tells Tremonti it's important to acknowledge disability exists.

"There's no shame in being disabled."

"We have to find the sweet spot between, you know being a person with a disability who has very real limitations but is also capable of many more things than people realize."

Listen to the full conversation at the top of this web post.

This segment was produced by The Current's Shannon Higgins.