Disability Community Stunned by Cuts

Disability Community Stunned by Provincial Cuts to Crucial Medical Goods and Services

MEDIA RELEASE                                                           

VANCOUVER – People with disabilities who are already struggling to manage on provincial disability benefits have been told by the Province it will no longer pay for some of the medically essential items and services they depend on.

Beginning April 1st, the Province will no longer fund a range of health items including pre-made foot orthotics, diabetic glucometers and a bottled water supplement of $20 a month for people with conditions such as HIV/AIDS.

“We understand the government is dealing with an economic downturn, but cutting funding for medically essential items to people with disabilities who are already struggling to get by is not the way to deal with it, said Robin Loxton of the BC Coalition of People with Disabilities (BCCPD).

“This will not save money,“ said the Coalition’s Executive Director Jane Dyson. “People’s overall health and well-being will deteriorate and they will access the health system more as a result.”

The BCCPD is also particularly concerned about the impact the government’s decision to end the $75 shelter minimum will have on people who are homeless. “Homeless people have shelter-related costs. This cut means these people with disabilities will receive only $531 a month to live on, said Loxton.

The government is also restricting dental services for people with disabilities; for example, beginning April 1st the Province will only pay for x-rays every two years. “The lack of adequate dental coverage has been a long-time concern of our community. Dental health is extremely important and the amount the Province pays is already inadequate at $1,000 every two years,” said Dyson.

Background: People who receive BC disability benefits get a maximum of $375 a month for housing and $531 for everything else, including food and clothing. In order for provincial benefits recipients to access health supplements from the government they must meet all the eligibility requirements under the legislation.

For more information contact:
Robin Loxton: 604-872-1278
Jane Dyson: 604-875-0188

Personal Planning Legislation

Personal Planning Legislation

On October 7, 2009, the Honourable Mike de Jong introduced Bill 13 in the provincial Legislature. This Bill contains amendments to the Adult Guardianship and Planning Statutes Amendments Act (also known as Bill 29) which was passed in October 2007 but is not yet in effect. Bill 13 allows the Planning Statutes amendments to be brought into effect separately from the Adult Guardianship Act amendments.

Proclamation of the Planning Statutes amendments has been held up because they are currently dependent on the Adult Guardianship Act amendments which have been delayed due to cost restraints. Bill 13 will allow the Planning Statutes amendments to proceed independently.

“We are very pleased that government has listened to the community and found a way for the personal planning amendments to move forward”, says Joanne Taylor, Executive Director of the Nidus Personal Planning Resource Centre and Registry. “Nidus led a broad group of community organizations who met with former Attorney General Wally Oppal prior to the last election to ask for a solution to the delay. Our subsequent brief to the new Attorney General was heard and we applaud Minister de Jong for making this a priority.”

The bringing into effect of amendments to the Representation Agreement Act, Power of Attorney Act and the Health Care Consent and Care Facility Admission Act will enable British Columbians to engage in meaningful and effective planning for future care in the event they need help managing their affairs. This was the goal of Charting the Course Ahead, a proposal written by Nidus and submitted to government in October 2006, which paved the way for the personal planning amendments.

“The passage of Bill 13 and proclamation of the planning amendments will bring certainty and provide accessibility to Representation Agreements, the product of a grass-roots law reform effort that began over 20 years ago. Representation Agreements are a crucial legal tool for adults who want to plan for their future and most importantly for adults who need support with decision-making today.”

Thank you to the many citizens and community groups who have been committed to ensuring that all British Columbians have access to safe and effective legal tools that preserve their dignity and identity and provide support for their wishes and preferences in times of need.

Nidus would like to acknowledge, in particular, the Alzheimer Society of BC, BC Association of Community Living, BC Coalition of People with Disabilities, Council of Senior Citizens’ Organizations of BC and Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network. And thank you to our current project funders: the Law Foundation of BC, the Vancouver Foundation, the Notary Foundation, the Rick Hansen Foundation and the Victoria Foundation.

Keep in touch with Nidus to find out how the personal planning amendments apply to you and your constituency and when they will come into effect.

Nidus is a non-profit, charitable organization. Visit them at http://www.nidus.ca.

Contact Nidus at 604-408-7414 or info@nidus.ca

Post Secondary Education Resources

Post-Secondary Education Resources for Students

Post-Secondary schools in BC have developed policies and procedures for assisting students with medical, physical and mental disabilities. It is recommended to review the specific policies of the school you are planning to attend.

The University of British Columbia (UBC) will be used an as example here. UBC has developed policy for the academic accommodations for students with disabilities in accordance with the BC Human Rights Code and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom.

The University of BC’s policy defines that those persons with a disability:

  • Have a significant and persistent mobility, sensory, learning, or other physical or mental health impairment which may be permanent or temporary; AND
  • Experience functional restrictions or limitations of their ability to perform the range of life’s activities; AND
  • May experience attitudinal and/or environmental barriers that hamper their full and self-directed participation in life.

Policies developed for colleges and universities are aimed at reducing or removing educational-related barriers students may experience in the post-secondary setting. Examples of support might be more time granted for exams, or having a scribe takes notes in class. Contact your school’s Disability Resource Centre to find out what type of supports are available.

To be eligible to receive academic accommodations, students must tell the school about their disability or health condition. It is recommended that students identify themselves to the school at the time they receive their acceptance letter. Post-secondary schools require information in writing to outline the student’s disability as well as define how it limits the student in their school functioning. Be sure to check with the school you are attending for what paperwork they need from you.

If you need your doctors to fill out forms, this might take some time. Be sure to plan well in advance so that services are in place for the start of the school term. From: The University of British Columbia Board of Governors. Academic Accommodations for Students with Disabilities. Obtained online from: http://www.universitycounsel.ubc.ca/policies/policy73.pdf.

Student Loans and Financial Assistance

Covering the cost of post-secondary education can be a challenge for young adults. The cost for each student will vary widely depending on whether or not they move away from home, if their parents will help with costs, if they have to pay on their own, if they take full-time or part-time classes and if they are able to have a job while attending school. Students’ have many costs, including tuition, books, food, transportation, housing and entertainment. Many students will need financial help to pay for all these items.

Students can access help by applying for the following:

* Student loans – in BC, students can apply for StudentAid BC which is the program of student loans from the BC provincial government and Canada Student Loans which is the program of student loans from the federal government. These loans require repayment when the student has finished their studies. However, if student becomes permanently disabled during the lifetime of their student loan, they can apply to have the loan forgiven in full.

* Bursaries and Grants- these are sums of money based on financial need and other criteria. These do not have to be repaid.

* Scholarships – These are awarded to students based on criteria such as academic achievement or community involvement. These do not have to be repaid.

* Check with your school, community and CF clinic to see if you are eligible to apply for any grants, bursaries or scholarships. Students are encouraged to take the time and apply for these programs. BC and Canada student loans also have programs and grants to assist students of low-income families. In addition, there are several programs to assist students with how to pay back their student loans or loan forgiveness.

Further information about loans and application forms for student loans can be obtained online at: http://www.aved.gov.bc.ca/studentaidbc/

Financial Programs for Students with Disabilities

StudentAid BC and Canada Student Loans both have several financial aid programs for students with disabilities. For access to these financial aid programs, a student must have a documented disability defined as “a functional limitation caused by a physical or mental impairment that restricts the ability of a person to perform the daily activities necessary to participate in studies at a post-secondary level or in the labour force and that is expected to remain for the person’s expected natural life.”

If a student qualifies, they may be granted funding for education related services or adaptive equipment. The website below has links to detailed information on these programs. As well, the website for the BC Ministry of Advanced Education and Labour Market Development has links to student loan information. From: Government of British Columbia; StudentAid BC – Program for Students with Permanent Disabilities. Obtained online from: http://www.aved.gov.bc.ca/studentaidbc/specialprograms/ assistanceprogram_permanentdisabilites.htm

* Updated September 2010*

Disability Awards.ca: A new portal to awards and scholarships for students with disabilities studying at Canada’s colleges and universities. Created by The National Education Association of Disabled Students. Visit http://www.disabilityawards.ca

Scholarship, Student Loan and Educational websites

BC Ministry of Advanced Education website which includes a link for students to information on their policies and programs. http://www.gov.bc.ca/aved

BC Government Student Loan Programs can be found at: http://www.aved.gov.bc.ca/studentaidbc/

Government of Canada site providing info on preparing for post-secondary education, student loans, future planning, grants, bursaries and scholarships. http://www.canlearn.ca/eng/index.shtml

Canada Benefits website. Click through to either the “I am…A student” or “I am…A person with a disability” and search by province. http://www.canadabenefits.gc.ca/

Canadian Schools Directory for trade schools, colleges and universities can be found at: http://www.trade-schools.ca

Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada provides an index of Canadian post-secondary institutions. http://www.aucc.ca/can_uni/our_universities/index_e.html

National Education Association of Disabled Students: a consumer organization with a mandate to encourage the self-empowerment of post-secondary students with disabilities. http://www.neads.ca

National Education Association of Disabled Students – Financial Aid Directory from 2006. http://www.neads.ca/en/norc/funding

Student Awards Scholarship Search. A website available to all Canadian students. The registration process takes approximately twenty minutes. Once completed the site will match you with bursaries and scholarships that suit your individual needs. For more information visit: http://www.studentawards.com

DO-IT (Disabilities, opportunities, Internet working and Technology). A project of the University of Washington, Washington State, DO-IT provides resources and links to assist people with disabilities in university, college and careers. Resources, include topics such as Preparing for College: An online tutorial for students. http://www.washington.edu/doit

Career Planning and Vocational Websites

Government of Canada career planning website http://www.workingincanada.gc.ca

This site provides information for youth on jobs, education, money, health & wellness, arts & culture. This site also includes a webzine for and by youth. http://www.youth.gc.ca

Monster.ca job search website http://www.monster.ca

Career e-Planning Manual. This is a website by the University of Waterloo that guides the student through career planning. The site has been developed so that the student can use it independently or with a guidance counsellor, teacher or parent. http://www.cdm.uwaterloo.ca