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‘Traumatizing’: B.C. woman claims casino wouldn’t let her in due to speech impediment – BC |


A Surrey woman believes she was discriminated against because of her disabilities, having been denied access twice to the same casino by its security guards.

Crystal-Lee Budnik has been trying to enjoy an evening at the Cascades Casino in Langley. But she claims that on her latest attempt July 22 she was barred because staff said she was “intoxicated” and “stumbling.”

Budnik has a speech impediment, a learning disability, lupus and arthritis. Together, she said they affect her ability speak clearly and walk steadily.

Each time she visited the casino, she said she had proper identification, explained her condition, and when she was turned away, asked to speak to a manager only to be denied again.

“I felt like I was being singled out just because of the way I talk and it’s not my fault,” Budnik told Global News. “It’s actually traumatizing. I want to cry about it.”

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In a written statement Cascades Casino Langley said it is “looking into this incident,” describing employee health and safety as its top priority.

“We are reaching out to the customer and will work with her to gather the facts of the situation and take any learnings into consideration for future customer interactions,” wrote Tanya Gabara, director of public relations.

Budnik, meanwhile, said she has repeatedly been mistaken for drunk by the past, including by police, and has taken to carrying notes from doctors and psychiatrists with her.

“I’m embarrassed to go anywhere. Are they going to criticize me of other things as well?” she said.

“It’s an ongoing issue and I don’t know what I can do to stop it. I don’t want to have to carry around paperwork and show them, that will make me feel more like a sideshow act than anything.”

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Helaine Boyd, executive director of Disability Alliance BC, said she has heard multiple reports of B.C. residents with disabilities being mistaken for intoxicated or high. In addition to speech impediments, it happens with multiple sclerosis, ataxia, cerebral palsy, and other conditions that affect speech and muscles, she said.

“It’s really rather unfortunate and (I’m) ashamed that this happens to a number of people with disabilities, usually due to just lack of awareness of disability in general, and empathy and appropriate training by those who are delivering service in our communities,” Boyd said.

“As a community, as a country at large, we have just started developing law related to accessibility … it really does need to be enshrined in law so the public service sector, and hopefully the business sector as well, can be regulated to have accessibility training to mitigate further situations like this.”

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Budnik said she worries others with disabilities visiting the casino may have been subjected to similar treatment at the door and hopes sharing her story will lead to a change in behaviour.

— with files from Cassidy Mosconi 

&copy 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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