Report on Recommendations for the 2023 BC Budget

In mid-June 2022, Disability Alliance BC, in partnership with the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition and the BC Chapter of Disability Without Poverty, presented to the Select Standing Committee on Finance: Annual Budget Consultation for the BC Government. Every year, the BC Government invites members of the community to present on recommendations that should be put in next year’s BC Budget.

In particular, DABC advocated for the inclusion of the following in next year’s budget:

  1. Increasing the monthly Disability Assistance rate (known as PWD)
  2. Establishing a comprehensive system of coverage for Medical Equipment and Assistive Devices
  3. Investing in Affordable, Accessible Housing.

DABC had 5 minutes to speak on these three issues, of which our Executive Director’s speech can be found here.

On August 11, 2022, the Committee released their Report on Budget 2023 Consultation and it can be found online here: https://www.leg.bc.ca/content/CommitteeDocuments/42nd-parliament/3rd-session/fgs/budget-consultation/Budget-2023-Consultation-Report.pdf

While all three of DABC’s recommendations were referenced in the report, the Committee ultimately did not officially make any recommendations that echoed our advocacy, with the exception of Recommendation #205: “Review the eligibility and administration of income and disability assistance, including earning exemptions policies and thresholds, with a view to reducing barriers to work, providing flexibility, and ensuring that the most vulnerable have access to all necessary supports and medical needs.”

DABC also supports the Committee’s recommendation to create “an independent disability protection office to safeguard the rights of people with disabilities in BC and advocate for those experiencing abuse, neglect, and discrimination.” (page 6 of the report).

Here are all of the recommendations in the report related to disability-focused funding:

1. Create an independent disability protection advocacy office to safeguard the rights of people with disabilities in BC.

2. Broaden the terms and conditions of Workplace Accessibility Grants so that programs and supports can be put into place for small business owners with disabilities including neurodivergent people.

3. Install reader boards for public transportation, including BC Ferries, to improve accessibility for the deaf and hardof-hearing community.

25. Increase mental health supports for students at postsecondary institutions across the province, including by providing funding to hire BIPOC counsellors, and continuing funding for mental health counselling and referral services.

44. Invest $15 million in amateur sport to improve affordability for low-income families and other underserved populations, and ensure that the sector is inclusive, diverse, equitable, and accessible.

86. Provide research-driven increased supports and infrastructure to mitigate the worst socioeconomic and health impacts of climate change (including reduced air quality, food and water insecurity, extreme heat, extreme cold, flooding, and extreme storms) on low-income groups, specifically including seniors, unhoused people, lone parent families, Indigenous communities, people with disabilities, migrant workers, newcomers, people with mental and chronic health conditions, sex workers, and people who use drugs.

118. Prioritize and fund the development of myalgic encephalomyelitis-specific billing codes for BC clinicians and the development of continuing medical education credits, modules or incentives for BC physicians, medical students, and other medical professionals to attend training about myalgic encephalomyelitis.

119. Provide the Brain Injury Alliance with a secure, annualized, and ongoing funding agreement to offer more stability and opportunities for growth to address emerging issues in the brain injury sector.

123. Ensure timely and affordable access to all multiple sclerosis treatments approved by Health Canada.

124. Provide access to arthritis-specific care, including pain management therapies.

128. Recognize that poor dental care leads to poor health outcomes by providing improved dental coverage for lower income British Columbians with specific attention focused on providing better care for people with disabilities and with diabetes.

140. Implement a funding strategy that covers the cost of modern prosthetics and orthotics, including the costs associated with emergency repairs, and ensure that BC adults with disabilities or physical impairments can access orthotic coverage after their 19th birthday.

143. Increase access to long-term counselling for children and youth who experience all types of abuse-induced trauma.

144. Develop targeted measured outcomes in mental health; and a plan to improve mental health and address addictions, the plan can include education to increase awareness, reduce barriers and stigma while also increasing access to counselling and treatment.

145. Identify and fund programming for identity-based counselling and mental health support services that are intersectional, culturally safe and LGBTQ2SAI+focused.

205. Review the eligibility and administration of income and disability assistance, including earning exemptions policies and thresholds, with a view to reducing barriers to work, providing flexibility, and ensuring that the most vulnerable have access to all necessary supports and medical needs.

Letter to House Leaders re: Canada Disability Benefit

A collective of stakeholder organizations, including DABC, wrote to House Leaders on June 13th, 2022 to urge them to work together to bring Bill C-22, the Canada Disability Benefit Act, back for second reading before the House of Commons rises for the summer break.

Read the full letter here: https://disabilityalliancebc.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/CORR-House-Leaders-re-C-22-Final-EN.pdf.

Update on the Canada Disability Benefit

On June 2nd, 2022, the federal government tabled Bill C-22 to “reduce poverty and support the financial security of persons with disabilities by establishing the Canada disability benefit”.

The Disability Without Poverty movement “is committed to working with federal and provincial governments to fast track an inclusive design process.” Read DWP’s press release.