PWD clients: know your rights about rent increases!

DABC has been informed that some landlords are trying to prematurely raise rents of their tenants who are PWD clients in anticipation of the shelter rate increase that will take effect in July 2023 for the August 2023 cheque issue.

DABC would like to remind PWD clients of their rights as a tenant: The maximum rent increase for 2023 is 2%, it is illegal for a landlord to increase a tenant’s rent above this. Landlords are also obligated to provide 3 month’s notice of a rent increase. Rent can only be increased once every 12 months.

If you encounter any issues with this and need more information, please reach out to the Tenant Resource & Advisory Centre for assistance and/or advocacy.

DABC Statement on DTES Forced Displacement 

Disability Alliance BC’s mission is to support people with all disabilities to live with dignity, independence, and as equal and full participants in the community. This includes meeting people where they are at, at any stage of their life, regardless of social or economic status, race, gender, and sexuality. This includes people who are housed, unhoused, transient, or at risk of being unhoused. 

With costs of living skyrocketing in BC, and many people with disabilities unable to work and/or unable to afford stable shelter, a lot of people with disabilities end up unhoused. This results in the development of encampments —commonly known as tent cities—such as the encampments seen in the Downtown East Side in Vancouver. The reliance on these tent cities to live safely is a clear human rights issue, as every individual has the right to safe housing. It is also reflective of the failure of the BC and Canadian governments to effectively implement the right to housing for all. 

However, for unhoused individuals, living in community spaces like tent cities is often safer than living on their own. There is less risk of fire, possessions being tampered with or thrown away, and less risk of overdose through drug use as a result of neighbouring together with a structure of community care.  There can also be a higher risk of violence for people with disabilities, which makes living in community even more vital.  

In light of the recent forced displacement through the decampment of houseless people in the Downtown Eastside (DTES), DABC openly opposes the action taken by the City of Vancouver. This action further enacts the systemic violence that unhoused people and people with disabilities face and increases the human rights issue surrounding tent cities in Canada.  

While the City states they refer unhoused people to shelters, Vancouver shelters all report being over-capacity and are unable to take on the individuals who were displaced by decampment efforts. Safety is also cited as a reason for decampment; however, breaking down the communities formed in tent cities leaves unhoused people at greater risk. The impact of this action – as seen through the past decade of decampment efforts – only results in more violence against equity-deserving groups in BC. 

Foremost, DABC advocates for safe, affordable and accessible housing for people with disabilities. Decampment efforts are not the solution and DABC stands with those facing discrimination and violence from the forced displacement in the DTES this April. 

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:

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.