Accessing pertinent information sometimes a challenge

By Lennox Farrell Wednesday October 15 2014 in Opinion
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One of the challenges which face us as people living in urban society is accessing, in a timely manner, information that is pertinent to our needs and interests. In addition, those in government who try to make contact with the populace also have challenges; a primary one being that those who most need information are oft those least likely to access it. Not for lack of interest, or eligibility, but for lack of knowing where to make contact and how.


The idea that the lives of the population will be affected by government policies is one that is challenged by some as abnormal, and accepted by others, otherwise. What is clear is that regardless of one’s position on the role of government vis-à-vis the lives and rights of civilians in societies which are “democratic”, as opposed to those autocratic or tyrannical is that government generally evolves from within the population.


In earlier times, rulership was tribal by elders; individuals, castes and groups with the knack – and knuckles – for leadership. Later, some of these grew into monarchies. In these, tyrannical rule was at best tempered by systems premised on forms of noblesse oblige. Here, rulers and the upper castes were expected as payment for loyalty by the serfs to return to the serfs some benefits like grazing flocks on “public lands”, etc.


Today, this form of social interaction has morphed into philanthropy. In this, the giver and recipient are not in the same class. The giver is independent; the recipient dependent. But apart from these, what are the roles of government today considered “democratic”, as in Canada. Among the foremost roles, at least according to the constitution, are:


  • Military – defence of the country from external foes, and policing for internal challenges;
  • Provision of civic amenities – roads, public transportation;
  • Education – primarily with education public, accessible, and relevant to citizens and non-citizens;
  • Justice and administration – wherein, the laws are equitably applied to all regardless of rank and social clout.


In Canada, with three levels of government: Municipal, Provincial/Territorial and Federal, your communicating with, and being communicated to is more than a challenge. This series on government and you, as senior citizen, and as parent (later as student) is an attempt to bridge some gaps, and especially for those without the computer and other technical skills and assistance to access info useful to us; in fact, info on benefits for which we as taxpayers contribute. Hopefully, all the contacts are clear and correct. And anyone with the requisite skills either already has, or knows where to find what they want.


However, if you are a parent, grandparent, or other who is caring for adopted children, here is info you would find useful. In a 2012 Press Release, the Honorable Diane Finley, Minister for Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, announced that parents who commit to adopting children in their care will be able to get Employment Insurance (EI) parental benefits. According to the release, among other details and options, “Parental benefits under the EI program are provided to any parent (mother or father) to care for their newborn or newly adopted child or children. A maximum of 35 weeks of parental benefits is available to biological or adoptive parents. The two parents can share these 35 weeks of benefits.”

In other Federal ministries, sorted by the government in alphabetical order are the following:

Aboriginal Head Start in Urban and Northern Communities Program is a community-based children’s program delivered by the Public Health Agency of Canada. It focuses on early childhood development for First Nations, Inuit and Métis children and their families living off-reserve. Contact Information: Aboriginal Head Start in Urban and Northern Communities – Regional Offices;


Aboriginal Head Start On Reserve. This program funds activities that support early intervention strategies to address the learning and developmental needs of young children living in First Nations communities. The goal is to support early child development strategies that are designed and controlled by communities. Contact Information: Toll-Free: 1-800-622-6232;


Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)-based Services and Supports Applied-Behavior Analysis Services and Supports: These services will help children and youth with an autism spectrum disorder become more independent, develop communication, social and daily living skills and manage better in school. Contact Toll-Free: 1-866-821-7770;


Assistance for Children with Severe Disabilities. This program helps parents with some of the extra costs of caring for a child who has a severe disability to help the child live as normal a life as possible at home and in the community. Contact Information Toll-Free: 1-866-821-7770, TTY: 1-800-387-5559. To qualify for this program, financial and medical criteria must be met. Child must be under 18 years of age and live at home with a parent or legal guardian. The child must have a severe disability that results in a functional loss and extraordinary costs are incurred directly as a result of the disability.

Autism Intervention Program. This program provides Intensive Behavioural Intervention (IBI) for children/youth that have a diagnosis towards the severe end of the autism spectrum. Families are offered support services while waiting for IBI and planning and supports are available when their child/youth prepares to leave the program. Contact Information. Toll-Free: 1-866-821-7770/TTY: 1-800-387-5559;


Cadet Program. The Cadet Program gives youth the opportunity to develop leadership skills, increase their physical fitness and make new friends while enjoying a variety of fun and challenging activities. Contact Information. Cadet Program – Regional Offices Regional Offices;


Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCTB). This benefit is a tax-free monthly payment made to eligible families with children under 18. It may include the National Child Benefit Supplement (NCBS), a benefit for low-income families with children, and/or the Child Disability Benefit (CDB), a benefit for families caring for children with severe and prolonged disabilities. Contact Information. Toll-Free: 1-800-387-1193, TTY: 1-800-665-0354. Application, Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCTB);


Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG). The Canada Education Savings Grant is a grant from the Government of Canada to help you start saving early for your child’s education after high school. Contact Information. Toll-Free: 1 800 O-Canada (1-800-622-6232)/TTY: 1-800-926-9105;


Canada Learning Bond. The Canada Learning Bond provides a grant to families whose children are born in 2004 or later and who receive the National Child Benefit Supplement. Contact Information. Toll-Free: 1 800 O-Canada (1-800-622-6232)/TTY: 1-800-465-7735. To be eligible, you must also be receiving Canada Child Tax Benefit (CCTB).

Mea Culpa: Correction required: In an earlier article, the line, you were directed if you wished, to obtain from the provincial government’s benefits for seniors, a comprehensive list of answers to pertinent questions: “A Guide to Programs and Services for Seniors in Ontario.” For more information, call 1-888-901-1999 or visit:

The number listed is incorrect. Corrected, it should read 1-888-910-1999.

To Be Continued: I am a student in Canada.

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