Wheelchair bound women denied mammograms


According to a Quebec activist group for people with disabilities, women in wheelchairs have been rejected access to mammograms for years because they can't stand up to reach the machines.

New information points to discrimination, rather than limited machinery.

Linda Gauthier's last mammogram was 8 years ago. She says she was told it was because she can't stand up to reach the machines.

When she called the Health Ministry to complain, she says she was told that all the machines in Quebec are capable of lowering to sitting height.

Gauthier is president of RAPLIQ, she says this is symptomatic of widespread discrimination towards the disabled within the healthcare system.

"Enough is enough you know, we're sick and tired of the situation, it's always like that," said Gauthier, "We are considered second class citizens, we can't take it anymore."

Gauthier filed a complaint to the human rights commission. 

Members of the activist group and others gathered in front of the Montreal offices of the Department of Health and Human Services to pressure the health minster to make policy changes that force clinics to provide the same level of service to people with disabilities.

Quebec's Minister of Health Gaétan Barrette says he will not tolerate this discrimination.

He says, all mammogram equipment is designed to be raised and lowered to any height, and no wheelchair should stand in the way of a woman accessing these services.

"There are no circumstances for mammograms that would justify a patient not to be accepted for an exam, it doesn't exist." said Barrette
He says all the clinics found to have rejected wheelchair users for a mammogram will be inspected by the health ministry and those that continue to discriminate against wheelchair users will face sanctions.

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