The Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) will no longer offer free admission to people with disabilities.
And that’s a good thing.
Though it’s surely well received on the wallet (a day at the Ex is never cheap, after all), offering free admission to those with disabilities is seen as insulting to some.
“We’re not pitiful, we’re not pathetic, we’re not a bunch of charity cases,” said disability consultant Lauri Sue Robertson, who has arthritis. “Other entertainment venues, most of them in fact, all of them, charge people something,”
She consulted the CNE on the change.
When the CNE opens for business, people with disabilities will have to pay full price to get into the exhibition grounds. Their caregivers, however, will still be admitted at no charge.
The organizers say the move respects the dignity and independence of all its guests — including those with disabilities.
“Why should I get in for free?” asked Robertson. “If I can’t afford to go, then I won’t.”
Of course, not everyone is going to be happy with the change. Even so, I think it marks a step in the right direction when it comes to inclusivity.
“If we expect to be treated like adults, we want respect and dignity and inclusion and access,” said Robertson. “We need to contribute to society to the best of our ability just like anybody else.”
And she’s right.