At the PSAC Convention in April I was honored to be voted in as Representative for Persons with Disabilities. I have been an activist for several years now and I’m excited about the new opportunities this position will allow to explore further the work we can do as a Union.
Over the last few years I have come to understand that as an employer, the Federal Government has much work to do in changing the mindset of it’s managers and supervisors towards people with different abilities. As an individual with an invisible disability I have personally experienced the stereo types and challenges of convincing people that yes I do have an illness, no I’m not just complaining when I ask for an accommodation and yes I will be a productive employee when provided with the unique requirements to accommodate my condition!
During my term, I have promised to champion our cause my fellow members! I must admit that I have not been as proactive as I wished, due in part to my own physical and mental challenges but I have not been idle either. Here is what I have done specific to this position so far:
- Represented 3 people in accommodation and return to work cases.
- Worked with 2 individuals who have decided to file human rights complaints.
- Worked closely with several individuals to get them mental health support after serious incidents in their home life and work life.
- Consulted with 2 other locals on issues specific to their cases, and I am traveling today to continue this work.
- Attended a “Facing Management” course.
- I have contacted PSAC about joining the working group on Mental Health that we negotiated in our collective agreement, for those that are in this group.
- I am working on a newsletter for distribution, hopefully soon.
One of the biggest challenges I see for this position is getting in contact with a sometimes reluctant group of people who self identify as a person with different abilities. So often we have been burned by this process that we don’t necessarily want others to know that we have unique challenges. I am hoping a newsletter to ALL Prairies members will allow some people to self identify to me, so that I can begin a distribution list and a way for us to reach out to each other.
I feel that it is important that I be available for our membership, and I’d like to make it very clear that I am here for you in every situation, from simply a person to listen and support you as you go through a tough situation all the way to standing with you while you fight for your rights. You are NOT alone!