BC Budget – Inroads on Affordability but Lacks Focus on Disability Supports
As Inclusion BC noted in its statement following the BC 2018/19 budget announcement this week, BC\’s latest budget included important new initiatives to make British Columbia more affordable, but there was a clear lack of support towards better lives and inclusion for people with intellectual disabilities, many of whom live in dire poverty.
BC’s new NDP government announced key changes that were widely welcomed after taking office in 2017, including a $100/month increase in Persons with Disabilities (PWD) benefit rates, which had been frozen for a decade. A new $52 transportation supplement for PWD recipients, announced last fall, was also referenced in today’s budget. However, it was disappointing that a key pillar of the 2018 provincial budget, housing affordability, ignored the dire straits facing 100,000 British Columbians with disabilities who face monumental challenges trying to find safe housing with the maximum $375 housing allowance included in PWD monthly benefits.
Inclusion BC went on to note that people with disabilities belong in our province and have an equal right to income security. What is needed is a plan to raise PWD rates to a level that provides for a decent and respectful quality of life for people with disabilities, and to provide future security by indexing rates to inflation. Inclusion BC also expressed grave concern about the budget for Community Living BC (CLBC), where very modest annual increases continue to lag projected caseload growth of 5-6% annually.
BC Budget 2018 included several modest initiatives that offer welcome relief for people with disabilities and their families. Inclusion BC applauded the commitment to end waitlists for the Supported Child Development and Aboriginal Supported Child Development Programs, which fund supports that allow children with special needs to access childcare.
Community Ventures Society (CVS) agrees with the comments expressed by Inclusion BC. In late 2017, CVS voiced its concerns over the insufficient CLBC funding to the Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. The reality is that people are on waitlists or have been given insufficient service hours for their loved ones. Unfortunately, the BC Budget 2018 did not address this ongoing issue.
CVS will continue to voice its concern to the Government of BC and hopes that in future BC budgets, the needs of individuals with developmental disabilities will be more adequately addressed.