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CNE ending free admission for disabled, saying all should be treated the same

Last Updated Jul 5, 2016 at 7:34 pm EDT

The Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) is defending its move to end free admission for disabled people, saying people with disabilities “deserve to be treated like everyone else.”

According to the CNE’s Zeenat Salimi, that includes paying full admission.

“We are delivering service that respects all guests,” Salimi told CityNews.

The CNE has posted the policy change on its website (below), saying it strives to respect “the dignity and independence of all of our guests, including those with disabilities.”

Caregivers can still get in free.

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The new policy is inline with other popular events and destinations like Fan Expo Canada and Ontario Science Centre, where disabled people pay full admission, but caregivers get a free pass.

At the Toronto Zoo, disabled persons receive a 50 per cent discount.

William Thom, who is disabled, says he won’t be attending if he has to fork out $18 for an adult admission. “It’s the principle,” he told CityNews.

“I understand corporations are cutting back. I know money is tight, but why hit the most vulnerable people that are coming in, the people that need that break in the summer to go down and have some fun for a change? It doesn’t make sense.”

Thom is also concerned that many disabled people won’t be aware of the change and could be dropped off by Wheel-Trans and left outside if they can’t pay the fee.

“Why hit us?” he asks.

But disabilities awareness consultant, Laurie Sue Robertson, see it differently.

She thinks people with disabilities should pony up like anybody else.

“If you want to be accepted as part of the rest of society and not be treated as some hopeless case then you need to participate an contribute to society too, whenever you can,” she said. “If that means paying your way into (an) event that you want to go to, then you pay.”

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William Thom discusses the CNE’s changes with Cynthia Mulligan.