After more than a year, Fort Resolution elder is still waiting for a wheelchair ramp

Dawna Beaulieu carries her mother Terri, 72, down the steep front staircase of their Fort Resolution home three times a week — so her mom can get dialysis treatments in Hay River, N.W.T.  

These are the only times Terri leaves the house. The elder has been waiting for a wheelchair ramp for at least year and a half.

"She can't even go into the local stores here or anywhere," Dawna told the CBC. "She can't even visit her own children or grandchildren." 

Terri could not be immediately be reached for comment. 

Dawna's father Leonard Beaulieu, 73, also has diabetes and suffers from long-term injuries after being run over 15 years ago. He can still walk, but a wheelchair ramp would make it much easier for him to come in and out of the family home. 

Submitted by Dawna Beaulieu

Dawna left her job last December to take care of her parents full-time. She thought she was going to be gone for a few days, but has not been able to go back. 

Dawna said a wheelchair ramp would change everything. 

"It would change things dramatically, so I could even push her [Terri] outside to get fresh air," Dawna said.

Deninu Kue First Nation brought attention to case in 2018

In a letter dated July 2018 and reviewed by CBC News, the Deninu Kue First Nation brought the Beaulieu's case to the attention of Glen Abernethy, the former minister responsible for seniors.  

"We highly urge that her [Terri's] residence be outfitted with a chair or seat lift so that she can access her house without risk of harm or injury," the letter reads. 

Submitted by Dawna Beaulieu

The N.W.T Housing Corporation provides a loan forgiveness program of up to $100,000 for elders with land tenure and home insurance who want to make their homes more accessible. 

Dawna Beaulieu said that in December the local housing authority told her that they would put in a wheelchair ramp, but never gave her a timeline for when it would be done.

The N.W.T. Housing Corporation speaks for the local housing authority.

In a statement, the corporation declined to comment on particular cases but stressed that wheelchair ramps could qualify for a loan under this program. 

MLA: Lack of department assistance 'disturbing'

Steve Norn, the MLA for Tu Nedhé-Wiilideh, is bringing attention to the Beaulieu family's case. He said the family is one example of how those with disabilities have difficulties getting support to make their homes more accessible. 

"What was … disturbing was the lack of a department to take the reins and help," Norn told the legislature in a statement about the Beaulieu's case last week. "There's a lot of back and forth and denial, which really saddened me." 

Mario De Ciccio/Radio-Canada

Norn said he has heard concerns from other constituents in his riding that they are having issues getting accessibility support in their homes. 

"They feel like they're not being heard, and that concerns me," Norn said. 

Norn said he has been speaking with territorial ministers to find a long-term solution for elders looking for accessible housing repairs. He will also be asking the government more questions in the legislature in the next sitting, which starts in a couple of weeks. 

The territorial government's mandate, released earlier this week, promises to "address home repair barriers" for low-income seniors and disabled people by bringing about a series of changes to housing policies in 2021.