Advocacy: Revised patient visitor/support policy and flexible family support

Since the start of the pandemic, our Executive Director and staff team have been in daily contact with senior government officials. We are also connecting regularly with families, our members and other partners to ensure we understand and respond to the changing needs. These connections and feedback are helping us identify priorities, and advocate for solutions to safely support people with intellectual disabilities and those around them during this crisis.

Together we have produced some good results — like boosting the PWD benefits, eliminating the clawbacks of federal benefits, and having inclusion support staff designated as “essential workers.”

Key Advocacy Priorities:

  • Revised Visitor/Support Policy for Patients with Disabilities
    We continue to advocate for important policy changes so people with intellectual disabilities have equitable access to healthcare, protective equipment and medical supplies. We’ve led the efforts to develop a strong, ethical framework for equitable and inclusive health care in BC. We’re also working for an updated hospital visitor policy that recognizes the special role of families and support staff. Patients with disabilities must be allowed to have the support they need to communicate, make decisions and get specialized disability care. Minister Shane Simpson and Dr. Daniele Behn Smith, the Deputy Provincial Health Officer, have assured the Re-imagining Community Inclusion committee that the updated policy will be released soon.
  • More Flexibility for Child and Family Supports during COVID-19
    All government programs have struggled to adapt to shifting needs, and our recent joint Family Survey confirmed what advocacy groups have been saying since March — many families of children and youth with disabilities are being left behind, especially those managing complex care needs 24/7 with reduced supports. They urgently need stronger, more accessible and flexible family supports due to the impacts of school closures and other COVID measures.

We are finally seeing a clear path towards solutions, with strong partnerships, commitment, and consensus emerging amongst advocacy groups. We know that #KidsCantWait and solutions can’t happen fast enough, but we want families to know we are working very hard to find a supported path forward.

Meanwhile, if you’re feeling overwhelmed and need help now, please contact our advocacy team by phone: 1-844-488-432 or by email:

Little things make a big difference

Until COVID-19 is behind us, restrictions in many day-to-day situations will remain for the coming weeks and months. But some things will become a little easier. Over time, our parks, schools, child care centres and camps will reopen. Neighbourhood stores and restaurants will reopen too.

Guidelines will be in place for these businesses and organizations to ensure your safety and the safety of your loved ones. We’re not through this yet, but there are important things you can do to protect you and your loved ones, neighbours and colleagues. The little things that make a big difference:

  • Stay informed, be prepared and follow public health advice
  • Practice good hygiene
    • Frequent hand washing
    • Avoid touching face
    • Cough into your sleeve
    • Disinfect frequently touched surfaces
  • Stay at home and away from others if you’re feeling ill
    • Don’t go to school or work when sick
  • Maintain physical distancing outside your household
    • No handshaking or hugging
    • Small numbers of contacts
    • Keep a safe distance
  • Clean your home and workspace more often
  • Consider using face masks when physical distancing isn’t possible
    • On transit
    • Shopping

MentorAbility: Online Seminar

Meet your Mentor! Holly Steele, EMBERS staffing

People with disabilities who are thinking about getting a new job are welcome to join our weekly MentorAbility zoom seminars. We’re supporting BC self-advocates who are looking for jobs and want to learn more about potential careers.

This week, MentorAbility is presenting Holly Steele from EMBERS. In her role of Recruitment, Retention and Community Engagement, Holly splits her time between recruiting new workers and helping workers reach their career and short term educational goals through the Training Division.

EMBERS Staffing Solutions is Canada’s multiple award-winning, socially responsible staffing agency, offering temporary job placements through our locations across Greater Vancouver. We have committed partner customers that hire exclusively through EMBERS for their outsourced labour needs, not just because our workers are thoroughly screened, supported and ready to work, but also because they want to be part of making a difference in their communities.

Please sign up for this 45-minute zoom seminar today.

When: Wednesday, May 13, 2020, 1:00 PM
Topic: MentorAbility Presents Holly Steele, EMBERS Staffing
Cost: Free! (For job seekers with disabilities and their supporters)
Register: Sign up Now

#COVID19: Hashtags

Partner updates on COVID-19

#covidandkidsbc #bekind: These are challenging times!
The Office of the Representative for Children and Youth in British Columbia has received anecdotal evidence that online bullying is becoming a problem for some young people during COVID-19, especially given the fact that they are online so much more. We hope these posts will help counter that.

#VisitorPolicy: Essential Support Person(s) for Patients with Disabilities
We all recognize that hospitals must limit visitors during the COVID-19 pandemic, but in many cases, allowing a support person as an accommodation is fundamental to communication and informed consent to care. See the open letter from Disability Alliance BC and some Inclusion BC members calling for the changes currently being finalized to allow people with disabilities to have an essential support person present during hospitalization.

#HealthJustice: Prioritizing community care over institutions
The current pandemic is a stark reminder that institutional settings are not always safe environments… There have been numerous calls to release and discharge people from institutional settings whenever possible.

#SALN #COVID: The thank-you news-sheet
Self Advocate Leadership Network (SALN) has received a full letter from Honorable Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, which includes the comment, “It’s great to hear that self-advocates are taking the time to spread these important messages during this time. The fair and equitable treatment of people with disabilities is a priority for the Province of British Columbia, and I would like to commend the work you are doing to raise awareness through your videos and newsletters.”

#CANADA: COVID-19 Disability Advisory Group
Persons with disabilities face unique and heightened challenges and vulnerabilities in a pandemic, including equality of access to health care and supports, access to information and communications, mental health and the effects of social isolation, and employment and income supports. Additional vigilance is also required to protect the human rights of persons with disabilities during these times. This necessitates a disability-inclusive approach to government decision-making and action. The COVID-19 Disability Advisory Group (CDAG) purpose is to advise the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, on the real-time lived experiences of persons with disabilities during this crisis on disability-specific issues, challenges and systemic gaps and on strategies, measures and steps to be taken.


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