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Hoping for 2018 Budget investments that make BC a more inclusive province

Summary: 
Inclusion BC outlines its BC Budget 2018 priorities to advance inclusion

For Immediate Release:

New Westminster, February 20, 2018 – Inclusion BC staff will attend Tuesday's BC Budget lock-up in Victoria with guarded optimism, following a Throne speech featuring commitments to housing, child care, education and affordability.

“We were encouraged by the Throne speech and look forward to learning more on budget day,” says Inclusion BC Executive Director Faith Bodnar. “The BC government has made admirable commitments to improve the lives of people with intellectual disabilities through poverty reduction, inclusive education, inclusive housing and child care. We look forward to seeing these commitments realized in next week’s budget.”

Inclusion BC urged the BC government to implement the recommendations of the Legislative Assembly’s Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services, including:

  • Introduce a new portable rental subsidy so that people with disabilities who rely on provincial Persons with Disability (PWD) benefits can access affordable housing,
  • Raise PWD rates to reflect the true cost of living,
  • Strengthen K-12 supports to support inclusive education,
  • Invest in the Supported Child Development Program (SCDP) and Aboriginal Supported Child Development Program ASCDP).
What it means, why it matters:

Child Care: Families of children with disabilities need childcare too. Unfortunately, too many children in BC are waiting to access childcare due to inadequate supports for special needs funded through SCDP/ASCDP. We were encouraged by reports that the BC Government has committed to eliminating waitlists for these programs.

  • This budget must include new investments to end waitlists for SCDP and ASCDP.

Housing: People with intellectual disabilities in BC face extraordinary barriers in accessing affordable, inclusive housing. Many live in poverty and cannot afford housing that meets their very basic needs. Any provincial housing strategy must be inclusive and address the needs of people with intellectual disabilities.  Read more.

  • New funding for a Portable Rental Supplement geared to regional housing market costs to supplement PWD benefits.
  • A Housing Innovation Fund to support innovative partnerships and inclusive solutions.

Education: In recent decades, budget pressures have eroded supports critical to successful inclusion of students with diverse learning needs. These include learning needs assessments, learning assistants, resource/specialist teachers, teacher time for lesson prep and collaboration, professional development and manageable class sizes.

Insufficient lead time and funding to restore the 2002 contract language for 2017-18 has resulted in boards diverting resources critical to inclusion, with hundreds of students being sent home or denied full access as a result. Read more. Urgent actions to realize every student’s right to an education include:

  • More trained educational assistants and specialists to help teachers implement inclusion and quality learning opportunities for all students.
  • More teacher training and collaboration time to implement BC’s new curriculum, with its potential to better serve diverse learners and students with complex learning needs.
  • A provincial working group to advise on funding and policy needs to strengthen inclusion in BC’s public schools and better support the diverse needs of all K-12 students.

Poverty Reduction: Many British Columbians with intellectual disabilities live in poverty. Many are poor because they cannot find jobs, or can only find jobs that pay very low wages. Despite recent rate increases, more than 100,000 British Columbians with disabilities struggle to live on PWD benefits that don't cover basic needs for food, housing and transportation. Read more.

  • Increase disability benefit rates to $1,500/month, with future indexing to inflation, pending a comprehensive poverty reduction strategy.

Media Contacts:
Faith Bodnar
Inclusion BC Executive Director
fbodnar@inclusionbc.org
604.764.2591

Dawn Steele
Inclusion BC Communications
dsteele@inclusionbc.org
604.374.1530