4 min Read

We’re All in This Together

A word from Executive Director Alanna Hendren

I’m not sure if it’s good news or bad news but the challenges facing people with developmental disabilities these days are the same challenges facing everyone else.

Housing is a huge obstacle to inclusion – for everyone. Finding affordable housing in a safe community is getting even more difficult since interest rates and rents went up dramatically post-COVID.

Accessing physicians, hospitals, specialists and community health care is a challenge for everyone these days, due to the pressures on the system related to COVID and Baby Boom retirements. Excess pressure on the system due to the ever-increasing number of seniors will continue for at least the next ten years, maybe longer.
Inflation has been a challenge for everyone since COVID ended because everyone wanted everything all at once when they could finally leave the house, but due to the staggered rates of re-opening in some countries like China, supply chains remain disrupted. Retirements by workers like truck drivers, pilots, longshoremen, and Port of Vancouver staff, along with severe weather in 2022 further slowed shipping, meaning that high demand and low supply causes inflation. The price of fuel also increased due to the war in Ukraine, which added more cost to any goods that needed to be shipped.

Costs have also increased because companies are starting to realize that the labour market is so tight these days that they have to pay their employees more. This further adds to the costs of goods but permits workers to keep up with the cost of living. So many workers are retiring and their replacements haven’t learned their jobs yet so service has suffered. Lineups everywhere are growing longer and workers seem to know less and less about their duties. Everyone is paying more for less.

Government services are failing because their budgets have been cut for so many years in a climate of low taxation, especially for corporations and rich people. So many government services were privatized to companies who are in the game solely for profit, so most of us are left to fend for ourselves on our own. Government is also an unattractive employer for young people who have been raised with a more entrepreneurial mindset, making recruitment difficult.

Massive development in the Lower Mainland over the past 30 years has increased the need for more roads and rapid transit, yet SkyTrain does not reach many municipalities and no new roads were built to handle the influx of new residents anywhere, but especially in the Lower Mainland.

Substance abuse has gone out of control, with more people overdosing than ever before. This includes people with developmental disabilities, who can become addicted just like everyone else. Toxic supply is to blame in almost every case. There is no bigger tragedy than losing our citizens to a life of addiction and death but no solutions seem to be forthcoming. People continue to pile up on the streets of the Downtown Eastside. The 4 Pillars approach previously applied by the City of Vancouver excluded funding for the most important pillar – treatment, putting more pressure on emergency health care.

These challenges are not unique to Vancouver, B.C., or Canada. They are global and, like the challenge of climate change, will require global solutions. Wars and conflicts between nations benefit no one and hurt everyone. Same with spewing carbon into the air, trade disruptions, and government failures.

Of course, all these challenges cause stress for everyone. Humans today are bombarded with more stress-inducing signals than ever before. Just driving to work or taking transit can drive up blood pressure.

Twenty-five percent of Canadians are now suffering from mental health problems at any given time. This may be a natural reaction to the insanity of the world today, but the only thing we can do as individuals is get used to change, try not to take everything too seriously, replace electronics with nature, feel compassion for the stress everyone else is feeling, inhale, long exhale, inhale, sit quietly and calm your brain. We’re all in this together. We need to take care of ourselves and each other if we are to survive on this beautiful, green-blue planet, glowing in the sun.