Mental health advocate asks council for support

Terrace's Yvonne Nielsen wants to press the provincial government to issue disability identification cards

Brain injury awareness advocate Yvonne Nielsen presented to Terrace city council earlier this month.

Terrace’s most active advocate for mental health rights, Yvonne Nielsen, was at the regular council meeting Jan. 12 asking for a letter of support in her campaign to convince the provincial government to issue disability identification cards.

“I have read many times or heard on the news about some persons who have autism, acquired traumatic brain injury, strokes, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, and are arrested for being drunk when they weren’t,” said Nielsen, who wants the letter sent directly to Premier Christy Clark to make her act on promises to support the disabled.

A card issued to all those with permanent disabilities would allow them to easily let people know what their issues are during various forms of public transportation, she added.

Several councillors wanted more information about Nielsen’s advocacy for the permanent disability card, including Michael Prevost and Brian Downie.

A motion was then introduced for administration to communicate with the provincial government to get more information about a potential card system.

This might explain why the Disability Alliance, a provincial advocacy group and coalition, does not currently support them. That came up in the discussion when the second motion to write Nielsen a letter of support passed, with only councillor Stacey Tyers voting against it, saying she didn’t agree with mandatory disclosure for one thing.

“I do appreciate all the work that Yvonne has put in,” said Tyers. “I do support the Disability Alliance on this one. [The cards] would be an absolutely incredible thing for people with specific disabilities but it puts people who may not want to disclose their disability in a position where they might not qualify for the same services if they don’t have the card.”

Nielsen argued that she had done her research and found the cards would not have to be mandatory, and that people with disabilities could opt out if that’s what they wanted.