People Before Systems: Saskatchewan’s Disability Strategy
Imagine a more inclusive province that is welcoming, responsive, innovative, and accessible for people experiencing disability. This vision is the basis of Saskatchewan’s Disability Strategy, titled People Before Systems: Transforming the Experience of Disability in Saskatchewan, that was presented to Government by the Citizen Consultation Team (CCT) on June 22nd, 2015.
This 10-year strategy is a starting point for a journey that government, its partners and citizens will take together to change the experience of disability in our province for generations to come. It’s a strategy that puts the focus on people first – a message the CCT repeatedly heard during the public consultations.
It’s a strategy that is changing the way we view disability to a new focus on the many, better ways to provide services and programming. The current way focuses on diagnosis to determine the needs of the person. The new way looks at disability from the individual’s point of view and understands that the experience of disability can vary widely depending on the person’s circumstances.
The strategy builds on four interlocking drivers that will transform the experience of disability:
- Person-centred services – create a more flexible disability service system that puts people before systems.
- Impact of disability – respond to disability based on its impact on daily living.
- Respecting and protecting human rights – make sure all citizens can enjoy equal rights and opportunities; and
- Accessibility and inclusion benefit us all – take a more inclusive approach to disability by developing environments that consider everyone’s needs.
These drivers provide a new direction for disability programs and services for our province.
It all starts with a person-centred approach.
The Experience of Disability Today
Today, current attitudes, practices, systems, policies and environments often prevent people experiencing disabilities from full social inclusion, economic participation, and equal opportunities.
This strategy replaces the term people “with” disabilities to people “experiencing” disabilities. This is because the way a person experiences disability is as a result of the interaction of their health condition and their physical and social environment. This term also recognizes that all of us can experience disability.
That’s because Saskatchewan people experiencing disability face significant difficulties in being included in society and treated as equal citizens. People experiencing disability have lower levels of participation in education, training and employment. They also have limited access to goods, services and facilities; greater experiences of discrimination; poorer health; and higher rates of poverty and abuse.
The strategy shows that it doesn’t have to be this way. There are ways we can all work together to help turn this present situation into a brighter and more inclusive future for all people.
These recommendations were made possible thanks to the work of the CCT and the ministries of Social Services, Economy, Health, Education, Advanced Education, Government Relations, and Justice – including Corrections and Policing.
By working together with all citizens and all sectors across Saskatchewan, changes can be made to reduce the impact of disabilities and support the inclusion of people experiencing them in all aspects of life.