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Can governments measure a child's worth?

Picture of the Barlagnes Family
Photo by: Pierre Obendrauf

Canada claims a sweet little girl, who has cerebral palsy, is threatening the nation’s well being. Rachel’s family, the Barlagnes immigrated to Québec from France. Because of her Daddy’s high priority job, Canada enticed him from France to improve Canada’s financial economy. Apparently, Rachel’s Daddy is a big deal.

Now five years later, as they apply for permanent residency, Canada declared little Rachel’s disability posses “an excessive burden on social [and] health services”. They want plans to deport the family; the deportation papers describe Rachael as a “risk”; not a foregone conclusion; not a fait-accompi. There is only a potential risk to Canada’s “fiscal wellbeing”.
The Government points out that Rachael may (but not does currently) receives up to $5,000 a month more than a “normal” child; it may or may not be true in the future. To be sure though, dollars invested in a child with a disability, ensures their increased skills, greater independence, improved chances for employment and the opportunity to become taxpayers.
Rachel’s daddy points out that through the growth and succeeds in his new business, he personally and his company corporately, paid thousands of dollars in taxes. He also hires employers who pay taxes. Lastly he built a successful business and stimulates the economy and will contribute corporate taxes personal income taxes for decades maybe longer.<1/span>
Rachel attends a public special-needs school, but has not required any medical attention. She needs rehabilitation services she is non-verbal and uses a wheelchair for mobility. Her Dad offered to pay for the services out of pocket to help his daughter and keep them from being deported.
But hold on a minute!
What if Rachael’s daddy weren’t a brilliant entreprneur? What if he was just a working stiff? He could have been a French cabbie who immigrated to Montreal. Would the parties still be arguing this issue? I doubt it. The family would have been departed long ago, if they would have been allowed within the borders in the first place.

So much for the intrinsic value and dignity of EVERY human life.

This is not and should not be a story about taxes. It is about a human being’s worth; and that the devaluation of people with disabilities happens all day every day in our society. Dominant culture overwhelmingly refuses to see any potential in a person with a disability; as a result any financial investment constitutes a waste of money.  
What would the world be like without Steven Hawking (neuro-muscular dystrophy), Peyton Manning (cleft palate), Harriet Tubman (head injury, narcolepsy) Thomas Edison (diabetic, hard of hearing, learning disabled – didn’t read until his was 12), Albert Einstein (some type of autism; dyslexia), Frida Kahlo (spina bifida, polio), Beethoven (deaf), Vincent Van Gogh(auditory/c\visual hallucinations, seizures, depression) Helen Keller (deaf/blind)? Would governments have kept them out of a country as a child because they posed a financial health care risk? Probably.
Whose fault is this? Is it the oppressor or the oppressed? It is time to reevaluate our prejudice, change our practices. Give children with disabilities what they need to succeed.


  • magitator 5 years ago

    Very jpowerful article. What can be to insure that people with disabilities will be improved with government sponsored health care. I'm curious to hear your thoughts.

  • Jeanette 5 years ago

    You hooked me. I had to read the article. Makes me think of what the Christopher Reeves family said, that they had so many more opportunities because of their money. So not fair...

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