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Transforming Rights into Action in British Columbia

B.C. and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

Links

Community Living Month and the UN Convention

Convention Toolkit

Making it Real - CACL guide to the UN Convention

The Entire text of the UN Convention

Easy Read Guide to the UN Convention

Every day in communities across B.C., individuals and groups are working to make rights a reality for people with developmental disabilities. Self advocates are speaking up for their rights, educators are making their classrooms inclusive of students of all learning abilities, employers are realizing the talents of people with developmental disabilities, families are advocating for a better life for their loved ones and service providers are providing the support people need to live independently in community.

There is no doubt that we have had many successes, but we still have a long way to go; and we cannot do it without help from the provincial government. The Convention recognizes the need for State Parties to enact policies and laws that allow people with developmental disabilities to live full lives in the community. Having supported ratification of the Convention, the provincial government has a responsibility to ensure that all programs and policies  are in line with the Convention.

The following selected articles from the Convention apply to BCACL’s five priority areas: Supports to Children and Families, Inclusive Education, Employment, Income Security and Disability Supports. See all 50 articles of the convention here.

The items below are priorities that BCACL committees identified as needing urgent attention from the Provincial Government. We know that there are many other areas and actions that must be taken before rights in the Convention can be realized. Visit the webpages of our five priority areas for more information (see links on the left of this page) or sign up to receive BCACL e-updates. You can also visit our social policy section of this website.

A brief list of what we need to make rights a reality here in B.C.:

Our Position

What the UNCRPD Says

What Inclusion BC is Calling for

Supports to Children and Families

Supporting children and families should be an integral part of our community culture.

When we strengthen and empower families, and when we provide appropriate developmental services to children, the community benefits. Supportive and welcoming environments enable children, youth and adults with developmental disabilities to grow, participate and belong.

The Preamble to the Convention recognizes the role of families:

“Convinced that the family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the state, and that persons with disabilities and their family members should receive the necessary protection and assistance to enable families to contribute towards the full and equal enjoyment of the rights of persons with disabilities.”

  • IMMEDIATE FINANCIAL INVESTMENT: Thousands of children and youth with special needs are on waitlists for urgent therapy services, infant development programs, 
    supported child development programs and respite care. Many children are never getting 
    the supports they need, aging out before it becomes available. Agencies are doing 
    their best to serve as many children as possible but many are having to cut back on the amount of time spent with each child and therefore the quality and effectiveness of the 
    intervention. Providing adequate funding now will prevent a lifetime of unnecessary challenges and hardship for a child and his or her family, and subsequent bigger costs to the system.
  • COMMITMENT TO FUTURE FUNDING: The need for early intervention support is not 
    decreasing; in fact, we are seeing caseloads increase year to year across the province. 
    Families need to know that as their child grows, the supports they need will be there. 
    And agencies need to be able to plan for the future to provide innovative and good quality support to children when they need it..

Employment

People with developmental disabilities want to work but they are significantly under-represented in today's workforce.

Employers are starting to recognize the positive contribution that people with developmental disabilities make in the workplace. Individualized and flexible supports are needed to help people enter and stay in the workforce.

BCACL’s social policy on employment: http://www.inclusionbc.org/about-us/social-policy-positions/employment

Employment section of the website:

http://www.inclusionbc.org/our-priority-areas/employment

Article 27 – Work and Employment:

“States Parties recognize the right of persons with disabilities to work, on an equal basis with others; this includes the right to the opportunity to gain a living by work freely chosen or accepted in a labour market and work environment that is open, inclusive and accessible to persons with disabilities.”

 

 

  • STUDENTS PREPARED FOR WORK: Career planning and experience in high 
    school and post secondary learning is important for everyone. Every student with a 
    developmental disability should be engaged in career planning activities early on. 
    Ministries need to work together to ensure that the 2009 Cross Ministry Transition Planning Protocol is implemented at the school level in all districts in BC.
  • SECURED EMPLOYMENT SUPPORTS: Some people with developmental disabilities 
    have unique needs such as job development, coaching, and support. Community Living BC recently invested funding for programs and services that meet these unique support needs. This funding must be secured and earmarked for the highly specialized supports that some people with develomental disabilities require.
  • REVIEW BC’S NEW EMPLOYMENT STRATEGY: BC’s New Employment Strategy 
    included the creation of Work BC Centres that promised to serve people with diverse needs across the province. A collaborative, transparent one-year review must be 
    completed to assess the ability of the centres to meet the needs of people with developmental disabilities.

Inclusive Education

Everyone benefits from inclusive education. To ensure the success of inclusion, students must have the necessary supports to learn in the regular classroom and participate in school social activities.

BCACL's social policy on inclusive education: http://www.inclusionbc.org/about-us/social-policy-positions/inclusive-education-k-12

Families section of the website: http://www.inclusionbc.org/our-priority-areas/supports-to-children-and-families

 

Article 24 – Inclusive Education

“States Parties recognize the right of persons with disabilities to education. With a view to realizing this right without discrimination and on the basis of equal opportunity, States Parties shall ensure an inclusive education system at all levels and lifelong learning.”

  • INCLUSIVE CLASSROOMS: Students need to be educated in regular classrooms. Too many students with special needs are being excluded from regular 
    classrooms. Some are not accessing regular classrooms due to class composition restrictions while others are being held isolated in seclusion rooms or forced to stay home due to lack of adequate supports.
  • QUALITY TRANSITIONS: Students leaving high school need quality education plans that lead to a meaningful life after they graduate. Ministries need to work 
    together with students with special needs and their families to develop and implement their transition plans. The Ministry of Education needs to ensure that 
    the 2009 Cross Ministry Transition Planning Protocol is implemented at the school level in all districts in BC.

Income Security

People with disabilities face serious systemic and attitudinal barriers when it comes to accessing employment opportunities and earning an independent income.

Living in poverty increases the risk of physical health problems due to poor nutrition, housing and access to health care. The social effects of poverty — including isolation, loneliness, and alienation from community life — contribute to both physical and mental health concerns. Ultimately, the result of these negative social effects is more costly than providing access to needed income supports.

BCACL's Social Policy on Adequate Income: http://www.inclusionbc.org/about-us/social-policy-positions/adequate-income

Income Security section of the website: http://www.inclusionbc.org/our-priority-areas/income-security

Article 28 – Adequate Standard of Living and Social Protection

“States Parties recognize the right of persons with disabilities to an adequate standard of living for themselves and their families, including adequate food, clothing and housing, and to the continuous improvement of living conditions, and shall take appropriate steps to safeguard and promote the realization of this right without discrimination on the basis of disability.”

The following recommendations are from the 2012 report, Overdue, written by the Disability Without Poverty Network (of which Inclusion BC is a member)
  • INCREASE THE PWD BENEFIT TO $1200 PER MONTH: This will reduce the 
    gap between what people with disabilities need for basic essentials and what they receive. It will help ensure that British Columbians with disabilities who need 
    provincial support can live in dignity, not poverty. It will also result in greater equity between vulnerable groups by bringing the assistance levels in line with those provided to low income seniors through the federal oas/gIs support. 
  • INDEX THE PWD BENEFIT: This will ensure that the PWD benefit keeps pace 
    with the rising cost of living and that inflation does not erode the ability of PWD 
    recipients to meet their basic needs. The Yukon government has recently adopted 
    this approach and we respectfully urge BC to take this positive step forward.
  • ESTABLISH A SHELTER ASSISTANCE PROGRAM FOR PEOPLE WITH 
    DISABILITIES: The high cost of housing in B.C. is a significant challenge for many low income people with disabilities. We propose the introduction of a rental assistance program for people with disabilities similar to the safer (shelter aid for elderly renters) and raP (rental assistance Program). access to rental assistance would help to close the gap between the cost of housing and the amount of rent that people with disabilities can afford to pay.

Disability Supports

Every person in our province has worth, is valued and has the right to be included in our communities. Disability supports make it possible for people with developmental disabilities to live and participate as full citizens. A decent quality of life means having the supports you need to contribute to your community and live a safe, healthy and productive life.

Disability Supports section of the website:

http://www.inclusionbc.org/our-priority-areas/disability-supports

Article 19 - Living independently and being included in the community
"States Parties to the present Convention recognize the equal right of all persons with disabilities to live in the community, with choices equal to others, and shall take effective and appropriate measures to facilitate full enjoyment by persons with disabilities of this right and their full inclusion and participation in the community."

 

  • ONGOING, ANNUALIZED INVESTMENT: The provincial Government needs to make a significant financial investment to fund existing and new supports and services for adults with developmental disabilities and their families. Funding 
    must reflect the changing needs of people as they move through life and in particular when they turn 19 years old and shift from one service Ministry to 
    another.
  • EXTERNAL REVIEW: An independent, collaborative, external and transparent 
    review of Community Living BC (CLBC) to ensure that it is governed, resourced and 
    able to take advantage of opportunities and address challenges in the years to 
    come.
  • INDEPENDENT OFFICER OF THE LEGISLATURE FOR PERSONS WITH 
    DISABILITIES: We call upon the Province of BC to establish an independent Officer of the Legislature for Persons with Disabilities who would have the 
    authority to investigate individual cases and systemic issues across the services 
    continuum and the authority and ability to undertake independent investigations.