July 20, 2021
A PRECEDENT-SETTING HUMAN RIGHTS SETTLEMENT REACHED
Two self-advocates with complex disabilities. A dedicated and passionate legal team. Countless champions for social justice. And their goliath opponent: a government unwilling to fix a broken system that caused them so much harm. These are the ingredients of a landmark human rights case. And while it may sound like the plot to a Hollywood underdog movie, it’s a real-life story and it happened right here in Manitoba.
After a five-year legal battle (2016-2021), Tyson Sylvester and Amelia Hampton reached a precedent-setting human rights settlement with the Government of Manitoba and the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.
For the first time, the Government of Manitoba admitted there were gaps in services for adults with complex disability-related needs. As part of the settlement, the Government of Manitoba will launch a pilot program to offer services to 30 adults with complex disabilities and study barriers in this system of care. This participatory-based research study will include the perspectives of the disabilities community.
The new pilot program will be launched in partnership between the province and the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority. It will be guided by a Steering Committee comprised of at least one-third people with lived experience. The pilot program will test a new model of service delivery; one that is person-centred with a focus on timely service coordination and navigation for adults with complex disability-related needs. And while the details of the new program have yet to be revealed, we do know the Government of Manitoba has committed to making “best efforts” to implement any recommendations resulting from the pilot program and the research study.
After a hard-fought legal battle, this pilot program serves as a victory for Tyson and Amelia, for the 30 participants who will benefit from the new program, and— hopefully—for thousands of Manitobans with complex disabilities.
Of course, one victory does not mean the battle for equality is over. Challenging systemic barriers for persons with disabilities is a never-ending fight. And it takes a toll. We have all experienced frustration and exhaustion from the daily fight to defend our rights. But a victory like Tyson’s and Amelia’s renews our strength. And, importantly, it signals to our next goliath opponent that we are, indeed, a force to be reckoned with.
Click <https://news.gov.mb.ca/news/index.html?item=51550> to read the Government of Manitoba news release.