DABC 2017 Election Questions

The BC General Election will be on May 9th, 2017. DABC has sent the following letter/questions to the three main provincial parties:

April 2017

Dear Party Leader,

Disability Alliance BC (DABC) is 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.

Through Advocacy Access, our direct service program, we assist hundreds of people annually to access provincial and federal income supports, special diet allowances, medical equipment such as wheelchairs and medical supplies, and information on disability related programs and services. Most of the people we help live in extreme poverty and many are at risk of being homeless or are homeless.

Other DABC programs include Tax AID DABC through which we assist people receiving provincial disability assistance to file multiple years of income taxes, and Access RDSP through which we assist people to access the Registered Disability Savings Plan and Disability Tax Credit (DTC). Two of our current projects include the Right Fit Pilot Project, which is a 3-year pilot to match wheelchair-users with wheelchair accessible housing, and How I Need to Know: helping people with disabilities who are victims of crime understand the justice system.

In addition to these programs and projects, DABC also focuses on issues of concern to the disability community, some of which are outlined in the attached questions. We are writing to you to determine how your party would address these issues should it form government after May 14th.

We will post our questions on the DABC website, with links to our social media platforms, and e-newsletter. Once we’ve received your answers we will post them so that voters can learn about your party’s approach to disability issues.

With best regards,

Pat Danforth                                                 Jane Dyson
Chair                                                              Executive Director


1. Provincial Disability Assistance

In April 2017, BC’s provincial disability assistance rate was increased by $50 to $1,033 a month for a single person. While this increase was welcome, people with disabilities who receive the Persons with Disabilities (PWD) benefit will continue to live in poverty. If elected would your government:

–       Commit to indexing disability assistance and developing a clear timeline to increase assistance rates to $1,200 a month?

2. Guaranteed Annual Income for People with Disabilities

Ontario has announced it will test a basic income pilot starting in April 2017 while other provinces have committed to reviewing the concept. This model of income support has the potential to remove the stigma associated with receiving assistance and delivering supports through a more efficient and respectful process. If elected, would your government:

–       Commit to working with the community to develop a pilot project to test a basic income for British Columbians with disabilities?

3. BC Accessibility Legislation

British Columbians with disabilities routinely experience barriers to accessing housing, employment, transportation, and other services. The Canadian government is currently creating accessibility legislation which will govern areas under federal jurisdiction. If elected, would your government:

–       Commit to enacting accessibility legislation for BC with enforceable standards and regulations for areas under provincial jurisdiction?

4. Addictions Support

Mental health and addiction services are usually provided through separate, non co-located organizations with separate treatment programs. This creates significant gaps and challenges for individuals needing to access help for both these conditions, the majority of people. If elected, would your government:

–       Assist mental health and addictions services to operate as a shared practice in order to provide British Columbians with mental health and addiction issues better care and supports?

–       Continue and increase funding to addictions recovery services, including InSites, on-street and residential daytox/detox, and no barrier housing?

5. ICBC Accident Benefits (Part 7) Motor Vehicle Act

Disability Alliance BC (DABC) has been calling for an increase to Part 7 payments for years. People who qualify for Part 7 receive a maximum $150,000 lifetime payout for rehabilitation and medical expenses. This amount has not increased for over 20 years and is clearly inadequate. Power wheelchairs, for example, can cost thousands of dollars and usually last for about 5 years. If an individual is at fault, they cannot file a tort or “not at fault” claim for expenses not covered by ICBC. If elected, would your government:

–       Commit to working with the community in order to develop a clear timeline to increase payouts available through Part 7.

6. Home Care and Support

As British Columbians are aging, there will be an increased need for home care and home support to ensure that individuals can stay living in the community. This will be the case for all British Columbians including people with disabilities. The provision of home care and home support is trailing demand and people are not receiving the support they need to live with independence and dignity. If elected, would your government:

–       Commit to improving home care and home support services to help ensure that people with disabilities and seniors have the supports they need to live in the community?

7. Rehab for people who are blind or have low vision

Currently there is no funding provided specifically for rehabilitation for people who are blind or who have low vision. Rehab includes all the skills individuals with this disability require to live independently, become employed or self-employed, and live a productive life. Such skills include, but are not limited to using Braille, travelling with a white cane, adaptive computer technology, cooking and life skills. If elected, would your government:

–       Allocate/provide funding for blindness rehabilitation to individuals so that they can access the rehab services they need?

8. Woodlands School Survivors

DABC has been helping the survivors of Woodlands School for 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. If elected, would your government:

–       Ensure that all survivors, regardless of when they were at Woodlands, can apply for compensation?