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Over 1,000 people with disabilities protest against social reforms in Prague, Brno
(CTK, 23.03.11) Over 1000 disabled and elderly people, their family members and supporters protested against the centre-right government's planned social care reform in Prague, according to police estimates, and about 200 held a similar protest meeting in Brno yesterday.
However, the organisers say some 3000 people participated in the rally in Prague held outside the Labour and Social Affairs Ministry.
It was organised by the National Disability Council (NRZP) that criticises the plans of Labour and Social Affairs Minister Jaromir Drabek (TOP 09).
The NRZP leadership warns that the reform would have a disastrous impact on the disabled.
However, the ministry argues that the planned measures are to secure a more efficient aid, prevent its abuse and simplify the system.
According to the NRZP, the planned measures are not to improve the position of the disabled but primarily to save finances.
NRZP chairman Vaclav Krasa called the proposals "an actual destruction" of support for the disabled and elderly.
Drabek addressed the demonstrators, trying to explain his intentions to them.
"The changes in the system which I propose are necessary and needed and a number of you know it very well," Drabek said.
He refuted the rumours that various benefits and advantages for the disabled would be abolished.
Health Minister Leos Heger (TOP 09) came to the rally to support his colleague. Both ministers then discussed the reform steps with the demonstrators.
The NRZP disagrees, for instance, with the planned change in the assessment of disabled persons' dependence on care, which is crucial in the decision-making on the financial contribution for care and its level.
The council expressed fears that some people might lose the benefits for care.
About 200 people yesterday met in Brno, the second largest city in the Czech Republic, as well to protest against the prepared amendment to the law on social services.
The demonstrators defended the current system of benefits for the disabled, which, they said, helps them overcome in life.
They also signed a petition against the government reform.
They raised objections, for instance, to the proposal for employing the disabled. They pointed out that it would liquidate sheltered workshops providing employment opportunities for people with disabilities and discourage firms from employing them.
Labour minister explains reform to protesting Czechs with disabilities
(ČTK, 21.03.11, Prague) Labour and Social Affairs Minister Jaromir Drabek (TOP 09) has sent an open letter to Czech disabled persons in which he explains his planned social reform ahead of a demonstration that will be organised by the National Disability Council (NRZP) on March 22.
The NRZP criticises Drabek's reform, saying it would have "disastrous consequences" for people with disabilities.
Drabek writes that his draft reform triggered emotional reactions that were sometimes based on untrue myths or incorrect information. Sometimes, however, these reactions were justified, he admits.
The NRZP said Drabek's reform would affect first of all the employment of the disabled, families caring for a severely disabled person and free choice of social services. Moreover, persons applying for any support from the welfare system would be in a humiliating position, the council said.
Drabek declares that he has reached agreement with the NRZP and the Charter of Social Enterprise group on several changes in the reform.
He dismissed the information that certificates for persons with severe disabilities, whose owners have the right for free public transport and special parking places, would be abolished.
Drabek said the present system would only be changed by a new one, with different identity cards.
Similarly, he says, several benefits will not be abolished but only modified.
Drabek writes that the state will continue to pay most of the costs of the special equipment that persons need to compensate for their disabilities. He says a person applying for such devices would pay maximally 10 percent of their price.
He also writes that the system assessing whether a person is entitled to receive benefits would be more simple thanks to the reform.
Criteria for disability pension recipients to toughen
Czech disabled want state to distribute disability subsidies
(Prague)The coalition of Czech organisations providing social services to the disabled disagree with the government's plan to transfer the power of decision-making on disability subsidies from the state to regions, Czech National Council of Disabled People chairman Vaclav Krasa told journalists today.
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