BCCPD writes to the leaders of the main political parties running in 2013 provincial election
The BCCPD sent the following letter in February to the leaders of the four political parties running in the upcoming provincial election. We are asking them to let us know where they stand on the 6 issues outlined in this letter.
February 28th 2013
The BC Coalition of People with Disabilities (BCCPD) was founded in 1977 by people with disabilities. We are a non-profit provincial organization; our mission is to support people with all disabilities to live with dignity, independence and as equal and full participants in the community. All the members of the BCCPD’s Board have disabilities as do most of our staff and all our volunteers.
BCCPD’s Programs and Services
Through Advocacy Access, our direct service program, we assist over 2,000 people annually to access provincial and federal income supports, special diet allowances, mobility devices such as wheelchairs, subsidized housing and information on programs and services. Most of the people we help live in extreme poverty; many are at risk of being homeless or are homeless.
We also produce health and wellness publications, self-help guides and legal education manuals for community workers and publish Transition, our quarterly magazine. We provide capacity building workshops across BC for other agencies and individuals.
Other BCCPD programs include our AIDS and Disability Action Program through which we publish HIV information in a variety of accessible formats. Our Emergency Preparedness Project which provides training on how to increase people with disabilities’ safety in emergency events, and CARMA, our peer support program for residents of the George Pearson Centre long-term care facility.
In addition to our programs and services, we work together with other non-profit organizations and identify issues of concern to the disability community in order to bring about positive change. We are writing to you to determine how your party intends to address the following issues should it form government in May.
We will share your responses with our members and supporters. Thank you in advance for taking the time to respond to our questions.
Johanna Johnson Jane Dyson
1. Increasing BC Persons with Disabilities Benefit (PWD)
We have produced a paper calling for an increase to BC’s disability benefit rate which is currently $906 a month for a single person. This includes a maximum $375 a month for housing. Entitled Overdue: The Case for Increasing the Persons with Disabilities Benefit in BC, (please see the enclosed) the paper was written in partnership with the Disability Without Poverty (DWP) network, a group we formed with Inclusion BC (formerly the BC Association for Community Living), Canadian Mental Health Association (BC Division), Community Legal Assistance Society (CLAS) and the Social Planning and Research Council of BC (SPARC). Overdue shows how the PWD rate is inadequate and results in PWD recipients living in poverty. We are calling for:
1. A $300 a month increase to PWD for a total of $1,200.
2. PWD to be index linked to help ensure it keeps pace with the rising cost of living so that inflation does not continually erode the ability of PWD recipients to afford food, shelter, clothing and other basic needs.
3. The introduction of a shelter assistance program similar to the SAFER (Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters) to help close the gap between the cost of housing and the amount people with disabilities can afford to pay.
Question: If your party forms government in May 2013, will it implement these proposals?
2. ICBC Accident Benefits (Part 7)
For more than five years we have been calling for amendments to the Part 7 (Accident Benefits) section of BC’s Motor Vehicle Act. All British Columbians injured in motor vehicle accidents can receive medical and rehabilitation services from ICBC. Through Part 7, people receive a maximum $150,000 lifetime payout for rehabilitation and medical expenses. Other funding provided through Part 7 includes money for homemaker services (up to $145 per week for 2 years) and wage loss (up to $300 per week for 2 years). Part 7 accident benefits have not increased for over 20 years and are clearly inadequate. Power wheelchairs, for example, cost $15,000 – $30,000 or more and usually last for about 5 years. If the individual is at fault, they cannot file a tort or “not at fault” claim for expenses not covered by ICBC. Enclosed please find our recommendations for changes to Part 7 Accident Benefits which include:
- An increase to Part 7 rehabilitation and medical expenses to at least a lifetime maximum of $300,000.
- An increase to homemaker’s benefits to $225 per week or 50% of the cost of professional care services.
Question: If your party forms government in May 2013, will it implement these and the attached proposals on Part 7?
3. Woodlands School Survivors
The BCCPD has been helping the survivors of WoodlandsSchoolfor more than 10 years to help them obtain recognition and compensation for the physical, sexual and emotional abuse they suffered while at Woodlands. In July 2010, the BC Supreme Court approved a settlement agreement to which former residents can apply for compensation. Tragically only individuals who were at Woodlands after August 1st 1974 can apply which means the oldest and some of the most fragile survivors continue to be ignored.
Question: If your party forms government in May 2013, will it ensure that all survivors, regardless of when they were at Woodlands, can apply for compensation?
4. Equipment and Assistive Technology Initiative (EATI)
EATI provides funding to assist British Columbians with disabilities to access the equipment and assistive technology they need to achieve their employment goals. This includes funding for assessments, trialing, training and repair. Using the person-centered Participation Model, EATI assists people to plan and implement their personal strategy for overcoming functional barriers to an employment goal. Since 2009, EATI has provided over $5 million of assistive
technology to more than 800 British Columbians with disabilities. Funding for EATI comes through the federal/provincial Labour Market Agreement which expires on March 31st 2014.
Question: If your party forms government in May 2013, will it ensure that EATI is an integral part of any renewal of the Labour Market Agreement?
5. New Guide and Assistance Dog Legislation
The BCCPD in partnership with seven other community organizations including the CNIB and BC Guide Dog Services have together produced a briefing paper (please see the enclosed) and a draft Act to update BC’s legislation covering guide and assistance dogs. BC’s current legislation does not sufficiently protect the access rights of people who use working dogs and their trainers, nor does it provide sufficient penalties for individuals or businesses that violate the legislation
Question: If your party forms government in May 2013, will it work with the BCCPD and our partners on this initiative towards implementing new legislation as recommended in the attached paper?
6. Poverty Reduction Plan
The BCCPD is a member of the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition. This provincial network represents over 375 community organizations calling for a poverty reduction plan for BC. Our province is one of only two inCanadawith no poverty reduction plan. We know that to be a person with a disability in BC is to live in poverty. We need a poverty reduction plan in BC with measurable outcomes that will, among other things, provide adequate income supports for people with disabilities and those expected to work, improve earnings and working conditions for low-wage workers and address homelessness and the lack of affordable housing
Question: If your party forms government in May 2013, will it implement a comprehensive poverty reduction strategy such as that advanced by the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition?