rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

B.C.'s plan for people with disabilities disappoints

Please help rabble.ca stop Harper's election fraud plan. Become a monthly supporter.

On June 16 the Premier announced B.C.'s new 10 year plan, "Accessibility 2014: Making B.C. the Most Progressive Province in Canada for People with Disabilities by 2024." The plan is the result of the provincial government's Disability White Paper Consultation earlier this year.

While many participants had a healthy amount of skepticism before, during and after the consultation process, at first glance, the plan has some positive aspects. It is based around 12 key "building blocks" that, at least judging by their headings, appear to target the right issues we need to address in order to support people with disabilities to enable them to participate in their communities. These include income supports, housing, financial security and the accessibility of services. The plan also commits to increase the amount of accessible public housing (likely by retrofitting existing housing, not by building new public housing), improve accessibility requirements in the building code, and provide some funding for assistive technologies.

That being said, after a closer look, there are some glaring omissions from the plan:

  • Housing affordability is not mentioned, despite the fact that the Disability White Paper Consultation Report highlighted it as a key concern from those that provided feedback in the government's own consultation process.
  • There are no goals targeted to people with mental health disabilities. In fact, there is no mention of mental illness in the plan despite the significant feedback the government received about the specific needs of this group, particularly with respect to housing security, difficulty navigating available services and the inadequacy of available services.

 Aside from stark omissions, there are serious problems with the issues that are covered in the plan. For example, under Income Supports, the province commits to "consider disability assistance rate increases as the fiscal situation allows" at some point before 2024. Given the inadequacy of current disability assistance rates ($906 per month for a single person, an amount that hasn't increased since 2007), raising the rates is a priority and we cannot wait until "the fiscal situation allows." We certainly can't wait until 2024!

It's also disappointing that B.C. chooses to measure its success on a number of issues in ways that simply will not reflect meaningful change:

  • The plan intends to measure progress on income supports by comparing B.C.'s disability assistance rates to those in other provinces. This totally fails to reflect the actual costs of living, or any other rationalized method to setting the rates so that people with disabilities can live with dignity.
  • The plan intends to measure "Financial Security" by the per capita uptake of the Registered Disability Savings Plan, a federal savings plan that, in practice, is only available for a sub-set of people with certain kinds of disabilities and at certain ages. Generally, the plan is of little benefit for people with mental illness or people who experience the onset of disability later in their lives.

After several months of extensive community consultation, the plan is disappointing, particularly if these are the government's commitments for the next decade.

In order for B.C. to become the most progressive province in Canada for people with disabilities, we need to aim much higher and come up with a comprehensive plan to address the key barriers and poverty that many people with all kinds of disabilities face in their daily lives. We also need to track the success of the plan with meaningful and effective measures. We can do better.

 

 

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.

Comments

We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:

Do

  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.

Don't

  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.