The family of a woman with a developmental disorder and the Offical Opposition are calling for better treatment of people with intellectual disabilities.
The call comes after Jessica Stuckey, who has Smith-Magenus Syndrome and lives at the developmental stage of a six-year-old, was jailed for 36 days and is now being detained in a psychiatric hospital.
Stuckey was arrested after being told she could no longer call 911 unless she or others were in distress, where she then began to utter threats.
“Jessica found herself incarcerated because of behaviour she cannot manage on her own. Behaviour she needs support with, behaviour that was a clear cry for help,” Social Services Critic Meara Conway said.
Stuckey’s mother, Barbara, said she feels scared, angry, and misses her daughter.
“The physiatrist had recommended the agency called Creative Options Regina (COR). He is aware of the agency, and they are aware of Jessica and all the things that have happened and have been happening with her, and they say they are prepared to deal with her,” she said. “It’s just a matter of funding, and we’ve been waiting ever since he recommended it.”
The family has been waiting for the last three years for the funding so Jessica can go to COR, which ‘develops personalized support services for people experiencing disabilities.’
“She would have constant supervision, and that’s what the physiatrist in the hospital in North Battleford and this what her doctor says she needs.”
Her mother said she wants Jessica to live independently like everyone else.
“What I’d like to see is her get the funding, come to COR, and have a life. I always wanted her to have a life, an independent life where she is happy and has things to do like everyone else.”
Conway said she is stocked about Jessica’s story.
“Going from pledging to make Saskatchewan the best place to live with a disability to turning a blind eye while someone with the mental capacity of a six-year-old is jailed,” she said. “It’s clear this government has to do some serious soul-searching, but it can start today by fixing Jessica’s situation and committing to reviewing and bolstering services for people living with disabilities.”
She said that the Ministry of Social Services could have stepped in at any moment.
“They could have stepped in and provided support that was recommended by her physiatrist, supports that was asked for by her mother years ago, they could have stepped in at so many opportunities.”
Conway challenged Minister of Social Services Gene Makowsky regarding Jessica’s ‘inhumane and degrading’ treatment.
“I challenge the Minister of Social Services to provide one good reason not to step in and fund this woman in an appropriate agency,” she stated. “One that has been identified by her family, one that has been identified by her physiatrist and one that has been very clear in the media that all they require is funding to do so.”
As for Jessica’s future, Conway said she would remain in a hospital until she receives the needed support.
(CKRM | Photo: Photography by Rae Stuckey)