International Day of Persons with Disabilities: Province announces recipients of 2021 Accessibility Grants
December 3rd is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD). As noted on the United Nations’ website, “The observance of the Day aims to promote an understanding of disability issues and mobilize support for the dignity, rights and well-being of persons with disabilities. It also seeks to increase awareness of gains to be derived from the integration of persons with disabilities in every aspect of political, social, economic and cultural life.” The theme for IDPD 2021 is “Leadership and participation of persons with disabilities toward an inclusive, accessible and sustainable post-COVID-19 world.”
For the fourth year in a row, the provincial government has chosen this day to announce the community organizations that will receive funding for projects promoting accessibility and inclusion. As with other years, grants will be disbursed by Disability Alliance BC.
The successful applicants are:
- The Arts Club of Vancouver Theatre Society. Project Name: Accessibility & Community Building at the Arts Club
- Arts Council of the North Okanagan, Vernon. Project Name: “Art for All” by Joining Hands
- Belfry Theatre Society, Victoria. Project name: Belfry Theatre Accessibility Initiative
- Cerebral Palsy Association of BC, Vancouver. Project Name: Program Support: Movement Therapy, Dance, Yoga
- Cherryville Community Food and Resource Society, Regional District
of North Okanagan. Project Name: Reaching Cherryville Residents Living with Disabilities
- Coastal Research, Education, and Advocacy Network, Victoria. Project Name: Art Therapy Sessions for Youth With Disabilities
- Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria. Project name: Disability Journey TOGETHER
- Made in BC dance on tour, Vancouver. Project Name: Collective Access Screendance Residency
- Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows and Katzie Seniors Network, Maple Ridge. Project Name: Safety for Everyone: A Disability Inclusive Emergency Preparedness Template for BC Local Authorities
- North Shore ConneXions Society, North Vancouver. Project Name: Access4Rec.
- Pedal Society, Vancouver. Project Name: Our Community Bikes Deaf Access
- Powell River Brain Injury Society. Project Name: Our People, Our Place; A History in Art
- Vines Art Festival Society, Vancouver. Project Name: Mobilizing Land
- Vancouver Island Human Rights Coalition, Victoria. Project Name: Accessibility Project Grant
- The Victoria Society for Blind Arts and Culture. Project Name: Your Eyes My Vision
DABC Vice-Chair Julia Lamb was quoted in the Province’s news release, stating:
“It has been very meaningful to be a part of this year’s Accessibility Project Grant review team and to learn about organizations across B.C. working to improve accessibility,” said Julia Lamb, board member, Disability Alliance BC. “This grant makes possible projects that allow people with disabilities to participate as equals in community, inclusive of our diverse experiences. I’m looking forward to witnessing the progress and positive impact of these projects on our collective future.”
Read the news release here to learn more about IDPD and the Accessibility Project Grants.
DABC's Statement on the Disability Tax Credit Promoters Restrictions Act
In 2016, Disability Alliance BC (DABC) partnered with Plan Institute and the BC Aboriginal Network on Disability Society (BCANDS) on the Access RDSP program. Access RDSP’s goal is simple: to increase the number of people who have a Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP). Through this program, the partnership develops educational materials and workshops, provides 1:1 support on how to open and manage an RDSP, and provides direct service support for those looking to apply for the Disability Tax Credit (DTC), a prerequisite for the RDSP. All of our services are free of charge.
At a minimum, DABC believes that people with disabilities should not face any financial barriers to access the supports and programs to which they are entitled.
However, we know that many people with disabilities have had to pay fees for assistance with the Disability Tax Credit (DTC).
Early this month, legislation that would have limited the fees that for-profit companies charge for assistance with DTC applications was stalled, after the Supreme Court British Columbia ruled in favour of suspending the operation of the Disability Tax Credit Promoters Restrictions Regulations.
The DTC is a principal disability support, not only because it is a non-refundable tax credit that reduces the amount of taxes individuals and their support persons owe, but because it is currently the gateway to other important federal disability supports, including the Canada Worker’s Benefit disability supplement, Child Disability Benefit, Home Buyer’s Amount, and the one-time COVID-19 relief benefit in 2020. Importantly, it also offers access to the RDSP—a long term disability savings plan that offers up to $90,000 in government contributions for those 49 and under.
DABC provides free support to hundreds of people in applying for the DTC every year. Through our experience, we recognize myriad barriers to claiming the credit, such as access to medical professionals and the real and perceived complexity of the application process.
Many individuals find it difficult to navigate through the application process alone and some have turned to third party consultants and companies for help. These companies can charge between 15 – 40 percent of their client’s DTC returns or RDSP earnings, and the credibility of their services can vary widely. While some for-profit companies advocate for positive changes to DTC legislation, other companies have been found to scam their clients—who consequentially were asked to repay the large tax refunds they received.
The Promoters Restrictions Act was originally proposed in 2012, reached Royal Assent in 2014, and was supposed to come into force on November 15, 2021. The Act would have capped fees that service providers were allowed to charge for assistance with the application at $100.
After the Supreme Court of BC’s ruling on November 4, 2021, whether the federal government will be able to enact regulations in this legislation will now be decided after a constitutional challenge to be held at a later date.
While DABC recognizes the need for service providers and support for people with disabilities through this application process, we don’t believe that people with disabilities should have to pay fees to access benefits to which they are entitled.
Compensation for these services should not be taken out of someone’s DTC or RDSP—two benefits that were created to defray exorbitant medical costs and reduce barriers to long-term financial stability that many people with disabilities face. Instead, federal and provincial governments should promote greater access to the DTC by increasing funding to organizations that provide DTC and RDSP related services to ensure assistance and barrier free access to these supports.
The DTC and RDSP were designed to address disproportionate barriers to financial security that people with disabilities face, yet the current DTC application process is a barrier itself. People with disabilities should not face additional financial barriers to access supports. DABC will continue to advocate for these barriers to be removed, regardless of the outcome in this court case.