The former soldier and Paralympic kayaker, who is confined to a wheelchair after sustaining a serious injury in training, has been waiting four and a half years for a lift promised by Veterans Affairs Canada to be installed.
“It’s disgusting, I can’t go on, I don’t have the strength,” says Christine Gauthier, her eyes watering.
While waiting four and a half years for a lift to be installed by the Department of Veterans Affairs, the former corporal will be forced to “earthworm” again this winter if he wants access to his vehicle and its vehicle. Autonomy.
Mme Gauthier was not the self-deprecating type. The soldier’s life took a dramatic turn in 1989 when he severely injured his legs after jumping into a trench during training. Eight surgeries followed one after the other through his travels abroad until he was medically discharged in 1998.
The corporal gave her all in speed kayaking, a Paralympic discipline in which she excelled, winning five world championships. Even at the age of 52, a woman’s body is mortgaged.
In 2017, he decided to move to Les Cèdres by renovating an apartment to suit his situation. Naively, she thought she could move the elevator, already paid for by Veterans Affairs Canada, to her new residence, but the floor was not up to standard.
In the summer of 2018, there was a long roadblock to getting new adaptive equipment. However, Christine Gauthier considers herself “lucky” compared to other players as the ministry recognizes her “exceptional” status and gives her 137% compensation.
However, it took two and a half years for the $168,000 “indoor 3-level lifting platform” to be approved. However, the site chosen by the department is several meters away from the garage where she parks her car in winter.
However, the ministry explored three options, of which Mr.me Gautier.
“I don’t know why they were so adamant about doing that. The cheapest option is the one we want […] The contractor said he had to do the work himself [que] It makes no sense to do so. »
A ramp in front of his house lets him out, but it forces him to walk nearly 100 feet over rocks to get to the garage where his car is.
No suitable place for winter
A difficult and impossible journey in a wheelchair in the winter, which forces him to “earthworm” and climb or descend stairs on his bum to reach his garage.
The option chosen by the department does not solve its problem.
When the service permit expires, “I can’t allow this just because you’re paying the bill,” he pleads.
Instead of choosing an option that the retired soldier had already considered, the manager continued the analysis from the beginning.
As winter approaches, Christine Gauthier is still waiting for new plans from the ministry.
“If I had known five years ago, I would have waited five years. With everything I’ve been through? I promise you that…”, she speaks of her dark thoughts, her eyes filled with tears.
“I’ve been told it’s been non-stop for five years and we’ve been held hostage for five years,” he adds.
When queried, Veterans Affairs Canada responded that it was “unable to share any specific information.” Newspaper.
Longer services for French speakers
If ex-soldier Christine Gauthier had contacted the Department of Veterans Affairs in French to get her lift, the disabled woman would have received much faster service, argues Bloc Québécois MP Luc Desilets.
“It’s clear that there is a delay in responses and processing between Anglophones and Francophones,” laments the Bloc Quebecois MP who sits on the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs in Ottawa.
“It’s very embarrassing. It’s about a forty-week difference,” says one who took the exam with the same requirement in both official languages.
More humanity was demanded
So he was not surprised that the ex-soldier was caught up in a “dreadful bureaucracy”.
Mr. Desilets argues. However, the deputy observes that the man who has made this trophy his political warhorse since 2019 is “total dehumanization”.
If the average response time of 12 weeks is not respected, this waiting time is even worse for Francophones, says Mr. Decilet.
“Francophones are always served later. »
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