BC Liberal Party Responses to BCCPD Questions

These questions were sent to the four main parties running in the BC provincial election.

See the Green Party responses here.

1. Increasing BC Persons with Disabilities Benefit

Today’s BC Liberals recognize the unique struggles facing persons with disabilities in our province. As part of our Families First Agenda, we have introduced balanced reforms to income assistance policies to ensure all British Columbians share the benefits as our economy continues to grow.

Through changes to monthly earnings exemptions, enhanced earnings exemptions for individuals receiving disability assistance, asset increases and the elimination of separate limits on cash assets, we are increasing supports to individuals, couples and families to help individuals with disabilities lead more independent lives and give their families more opportunities.

The Province also helps cover costs by rebating fuel taxes, lowering the cost of insurance and providing additional homeowner grants for people with disabilities or who have a relative or spouse living with a disability in their home.

Our vision is simple. We believe that British Columbia should be the most progressive jurisdiction for the people and families living with disabilities in Canada.

But there is much more that we can, should, and will do.

If re-elected, Today’s BC Liberals will mandate a white paper on the issues facing people with disabilities in British Columbia. Upon completion of the white paper, it will be circulated for public comment and followed up with a provincial summit in order to ensure we as a government and society are national leaders in reducing barriers and increasing freedoms for people living with disabilities.

2. ICBC Accident Benefits (Part 7)

Under British Columbia’s civil law system, injured parties have access to both no fault Part 7 benefits and cost of future care or wage replacement as part of a personal injury settlement or judgment.  Any changes to Part 7 benefits would have to be considered in light of the impact on basic ICBC rates as set by the British Columbia Utilities Commission and the availability of private insurance and other government benefit programs such as income assistance or workers compensation.

3. Woodlands School Survivors

Today’s BC Liberals acknowledge the former residents of Woodlands who have spoken out about their experiences and the impact it has had on their lives.  We believe that our government has approached this issue in a fair manner, based on a previous court ruling on a different matter.  Our approach has been confirmed as proper by the BC Court of Appeal.  If we ignored the principle of law to compensate one group, like the residents before 1974, it would significantly affect others.  Going forward, we want to resolve all lawful claims that fall within the settlement agreement as quickly as possible.

 4. Equipment and Assistive Technology Initiative

The Equipment and Assistive Technology Initiative has been part of our government’s commitment to the Provincial Disability Strategy, helping to ensure persons with disabilities have access to the supports they need to achieve their employment goals. Eligible purchases might include wheelchairs and other mobility devices, computer software, van conversions, voice output GPS systems and devices that allow people with visual impairments to read printed text. Since its 2009 launch, EATI has assisted more than 800 British Columbians with disabilities.

Today’s BC Liberals will ensure British Columbia gets our fair share from the Labour Market Agreement negotiations. We have a positive working relationship with the federal government and will work hard to ensure funding continues to be available for programs like EATI.

5. New Guide and Assistance Dog Legislation

Our government has already begun work to update the Guide Animal Act. Last year, public feedback was requested to clarify training requirements, as well as the public access and tenancy rights for qualified and certified guide dogs and service dogs. And we are now undertaking a comparative review of legislation across Canada to determine best practices.

Today’s BC Liberals will continue to work in partnership with the BCCPD and other organizations to modernize the Act to meet the needs of British Columbians who require guide animals.

6. Poverty Reduction Plan

Today’s BC Liberals do not believe that we can legislate away poverty. There isn’t a one size fits all approach to this complex issue – that is why we have regional poverty plans to take into account the needs of communities across the province.

Our government has taken major steps to reduce child poverty, including efforts to strengthen the economy and create jobs and targeting investments to better support low income families and those at risk of poverty. Our plan is working: we have seen a dramatic, consistent decline of almost 45 per cent in the poverty rate since 2003. Approximately 75,000 children have been lifted out of poverty.

B.C.’s child poverty rate is at its second‐lowest point in the past 20 years. Only 2008 – before the recession – had a better result.

We realize we are not there yet but our efforts to strengthen the economy and create jobs while providing targeted supports to low income families are working.