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The Re-Open Saskatchewan plan was released on April 23rd.

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Government Announces Additional Funding For D/Deaf And Deafblind Services

Released on July 20, 2020

The Government of Saskatchewan has announced an additional funding increase of $350,000 to help address service gaps for the D/deaf and Deafblind populations of Saskatchewan.  This was previously committed in the 2020-21 Budget.

This funding will be provided to Vision Loss Rehabilitation Canada (VLRC) and Saskatchewan Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services (SDHHS) to provide expanded services.

The funding will allow VLRC to leverage their affiliate organization, Deafblind Community Services, to provide a new service in Saskatchewan, while SDHHS will be able to expand their delivery of interpreting American Sign Language (ASL) services for persons dealing with the courts, police, medical, educational and employment sectors.  These supports assist people who are D/deaf or hard of hearing in accessing services to participate in their community.

“It is important that we continue to look at removing barriers in our communities so people can participate to their fullest,” Social Services Minister Paul Merriman said.  “This funding increase will help people who are D/deaf and Deafblind do just that.  I’m looking forward to more of this work as we start to engage with the province on accessibility legislation for Saskatchewan in the coming months.”

Saskatchewan Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services provides ASL interpreting services.  The additional funding will allow the organization to hire one additional ASL interpreter and two sign support professionals and enhance their 24-hour interpreter line to include access to intervener services.  They will receive $253,000.

“This funding represents a significant increase in accessibility in our province,” SDHHS Executive Director Nairn Gillies said.  “It will go a long way to allowing deaf and hard of hearing people to participate fully.”

VLRC is a provincially funded, accredited health care organization staffed by a passionate team of certified professionals.  The organization provides professional, high-quality and sustainable rehabilitation to Canadians with vision loss now and into the future.

The additional funding will allow the organization to establish Deafblind Community Services here in Saskatchewan, including hiring one Deafblind intervenor and providing daily one-to-one intervenor services to four people who are Deafblind.  They will receive $96,500.

“The lack of professional support services for people who are Deafblind in Canada is definitely a human rights concern, especially when a person needs a professional to facilitate communication at a medical or legal appointment,” Deafblind Community Services Executive Director Sherry Grabrowski said.  “Some people who are Deafblind have no outside support from family or friends.  That’s why our services are so important to the people we serve.  This announcement sets a precedent that we hope other provinces will follow.”

This funding supports the Saskatchewan Disability Strategy by expanding supports for people to participate in their communities.

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For more information, contact:

Rikkeal Bohmann
Social Services
Regina
Phone: 306-570-1149
Email: rikkeal.bohmann@gov.sk.ca

Alison Byczok
Vision Loss Rehabilitation Canada and Deafblind Community Services 
Toronto
Phone: 416-272-0464
Email: alison.byczok@cnib.ca 

Nairn Gillies
Saskatchewan Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services
Saskatoon
Phone: 306-220-8127
Email: nairn@sdhhs.com 

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