DABC’s COVID-19 Systemic Advocacy Efforts

DABC’s systemic work involves identifying issues affecting people with disabilities, and advocating for broad changes in legislation and government policy that will benefit a large number of people.

As the situation around COVID-19 unfolds, DABC has heard from many members and clients that have felt left behind in the emergency measures the government has announced to help people through the crisis. DABC has been advocating at the provincial and federal levels for supports to ensure people with disabilities stay safe during the pandemic.

We highlight a few of our recent efforts below:

Provincial

Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction:

Along with four other advocacy groups, we wrote to Minister Simpson on March 26th calling for financial supports for people on income assistance and PWD, including temporary exemption of emergency federal benefits (like CERB and EI) from clawback, as well as expanded access to crisis supplements. 

 Read our letter to Minister Simpson here: 

https://disabilityalliancebc.org/dabc-joins-community-partners-in-calling-on-the-ministry-to-provide-crisis-supports-for-income-assistance-and-pwd-recipients/

On April 2nd, were very pleased to see the Minister announce emergency measures for people on income assistance (IA) and PWD, including:

  • Exemption of EI and CERB from clawback from IA and PWD;
  • An automatic $300 crisis supplement for the next three months for people on IA and PWD who are not receiving EI or the CERB. 

Following the government’s announcement of emergency supports, we wrote a follow up letter (along with other groups) to Minister Simpson identifying remaining gaps in those supports, including:

  • the lack of supports for people receiving CPP-D;
  • the need to remove financial caps on existing crisis supplements (e.g. for food, clothing, and shelter); and
  • accessibility of Ministry services in light of physical distancing measures. 

Read our letter to Minister Simpson here: https://disabilityalliancebc.org/follow-up-letter-to-minister-simpson-concerning-supports-for-pwd-ia-and-cpp-d-recipients/

Ministry of Health:

DABC wrote to BC’s Minister of Health seeking information about “triaging guidelines” that we understand the government is developing. These are guidelines for how healthcare providers may allocate life-saving resources, such as ventilators, if the healthcare system is overwhelmed and there is a shortage of those resources. DABC is concerned the guidelines may mean some people with disabilities will not get the same healthcare treatment that others receive. 

In our letter to Minister Dix, we recommended that the government must consult with human rights experts and vulnerable communities in creating the guidelines. We also urge the government to ensure that decisions about who gets life-saving care must not be based on stereotypes, bias, or ableism, and that the guidelines must not result in people with disabilities being excluded from life-saving care.

Read our letter to Minister Dix here: http://disabilityalliancebc.org/letter-to-minister-dix-re-covid-19-triage-protocol/

DABC’s letter draws on the excellent letter ARCH Disability Law Centre wrote to the Ontario government regarding Ontario’s COVID-19 triage protocol: http://disabilityalliancebc.org/letter-calls-for-urgent-changes-to-ontario-healths-clinical-triage-protocol-for-major-surge-in-covid-pandemic/ 

Federal 

Employment and Social Development:

On April 20th, we wrote to the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, detailing our concerns about the financial impact of COVID-19 on people with disabilities. We called for supports and accommodations including:

  • emergency financial supports for people receiving CPP-D (along the lines of those being provided to people on PWD);
  • a temporary halt to reassessments for CPP-D eligibility during the pandemic;
  • accommodations related to the Disability Tax Credit and the RDSP, including flexible timelines for applications and contributions. 

Read our letter to Minister Qualtrough here: https://disabilityalliancebc.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Letter-to-Minister-Qualtrough-from-DABC-.pdf 

We were so pleased to see Minister Qualtrough’s creation of the 11-member federal Disability Advisory Group, and hope the advisory group and federal leadership will work towards a unified national approach to supports and inclusion for people with disabilities during this crisis.