Dignity for all

On Monday Edmonton sports teams lost one of their greatest teammates and ambassadors.

His name was Joey Moss. Many news outlets described him as a legendary locker room attendant for both the Oilers and Edmonton’s CFL franchise.

While the man didn’t play professional sports himself, he was inducted into the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame in 2015. His passion for sports earned him lasting friendships – including a 36-year bond with Wayne Gretzky. The Great One helped get Moss a job with the team. Moss lived with Down syndrome for 57 years.

Although the story of Joey Moss takes place 3,500km away, within hamlets and towns across Wellington, there are dozens of passionate caring souls who live a life with Down’s. And with each of those beautiful people there are siblings and parents supporting and cheering their Joey or Jane, wanting nothing but the very best for them.

Months back, one of the more enjoyable parts of the day was grabbing a coffee downtown. Mid-afternoon a young man with Down’s would be sitting at a table in Tim Hortons, donut and drink at hand. Without fail a great hand would raise in a wave as we made it through the drive-thru.

He was happy, I was happy. More people need to be happy. And some days that same fellow would be heading home as we left for home. He had dignity in spades.

This week, on pages 1 and 35, our reporter has a story on Community Living and its departure from centre-based programming to a person-centred approach. Parents and caregivers are concerned about the merits of the new idea as they watch six centres that have been life-lines for their families close.

Perhaps it wasn’t meant that way, but both the union representative and the executive director of Community Living Guelph Wellington seemed to be hung up on the future for the workers involved.

Yes, we need workers and they deserve to be paid well for jobs that few of us could capably perform. But there, in black and white, was the substance of our ongoing concern with so many programs meant to assist the less advantaged.

Laura Hanley acknowledged “it may mean fewer hours of support for some people. But it will not mean layoffs for staff.” While the essence of that statement is understood as a way to assure staff, it is instructive on priorities – system first, recipient second.

Apart from concerned parents and some token words from politicians now and again, society is falling behind on how it treats its most vulnerable. Surely to God, there are ways for organizations and community groups to work together to look after people. But alas, the system churns on. The paid types get their pay and the customer – the person in need of service – is but an afterthought in many cases.

Dignity for all – we should accept nothing less.

A good first step

Dogs have long been considered a human’s best friends.

That may explain why this past spring, as shutdowns left people anxious and gloomy, many people sought out companionship with a furry friend. The pup market exploded and the old law of supply and demand kicked in, sending prices from a few hundred dollars for a young pup to multiples of that.

The biggest price we heard for an unregistered puppy was $3,000.

Dog breeding has been the bane of many councils’ existence for a long time. Noise complaints, wandering dogs and lately an acute concern over potential puppy mills in their midst have become increasingly common issues for rural councils to consider.

Minto, tasked its bylaw officer with preparing a report for council on the subject. Facilities within the town that are known kennels were visited and inspected. The report revealed clean, comfortable places and happy pets.

This proactive measure is something other locales should consider. Often bylaws speak to annual inspections, but that assumes the owner is on the up and up. There is the very real possibility with pup prices through the roof that unlicensed facilities could take root.

Greed could then lead to puppy mills and no one wants to see that abhorrent practice in our midst.

Good first step, Minto – others will surely follow.