NEWS RELEASE- inclusion BC Welcomes Restored PWD Bus Pass

Victoria, BC – October 2, 2017: Inclusion BC’s Faith Bodnar and other disability advocates joined BC Minister Shane Simpson today to announce a new transportation supplement for people who live on Persons with Disabilities (PWD) benefits.

The new transportation supplement fulfills the BC government’s promise to restore the bus pass for PWD recipients effective January 2018 without any clawbacks.

The Ministry for Social Development and Poverty Reduction announced the new flexible transportation supplement, which can be used for a bus pass or other transportation options, at a press conference Monday morning.
•Read more in the Ministry’s press release.

Bodnar, Inclusion BC’s Executive Director, had urged government to restore the bus pass as soon as possible, noting that reliable and affordable access to transportation is critical to ensuring that people with disabilities can exercise their rights to community inclusion.

On Monday, Bodnar joined Minister Simpson for the announcement and applauded the move as a positive one.

“Almost 18 months ago. Inclusion BC and thousands of British Columbians called for the restoration of the bus pass,” Bodnar said. “We brought our call to this very legislature along with the support of 16,000 people who signed our petition.”
•More on the campaign to raise PWD rates & restore the bus pass

“I am very pleased that the new government has made transportation a priority for people on PWD. Not only for those who use a bus pass but for everyone on PWD,” Bodnar said.

Other advocates, including Disability Alliance BC and the BC Aboriginal Network on Disability Society (BCANDS) also joined the Minister for the announcement and applauded the move.

The provincial government has recently taken a number of steps to start addressing the poverty faced by people with disabilities (read more).
•In September, PWD rates were increased $100/month.
•In September, the BC government also increased the earnings exemption (the amount someone can earn from working before their PWD benefits are reduced) by $200 per month.

This raises the total annual earnings exemption for 2017 to $12,000 for a single person before any reduction in their monthly PWD benefits. BC now has the highest annualized earnings exemption for disability benefit recipients in Canada.

Inclusion BC is also participating in community consultations that Minister Simpson has launched to help shape a poverty reduction strategy for BC.

“The transportation supplement is a major improvement that acknowledges all British Columbians with disabilities on assistance should receive support to get around in their communities, wherever they live,” Bodnar said. “This, along with the increase in earnings exemptions, is an important step forward in providing people on disability assistance with the capacity to work, improve their quality of life without penalty and contribute economically to the province.”

Inclusion BC looks forward to working with government and community partners to ensure income security for people with intellectual disabilities. This includes PWD rates that reflect the true cost of living and that are indexed to inflation.

About Inclusion BC
We are a provincial federation of people with intellectual disabilities, families and community agencies that advocates for inclusion, rights and full citizenship. Since 1955, we have been working with communities, partners and governments to advance our vision of a world where we all belong.
More: inclusionbc.org

Contacts

Faith Bodnar
Executive Director
Inclusion BC
Cel: 604 764-2591
Email: fbodnar@inclusionbc.org

Dawn Steele
Communications
Cel: 604 374-1530
Email: dsteele@inclusionbc.org

October is Community Inclusion Month

from inclusion BC:
Vancouver, BC – September 29, 2017: Inclusion BC joins communities across BC to declare October Community Inclusion Month.
“This is an opportunity to reflect on the meaning and importance of inclusion and how communities hold the key to making it happen,” says Inclusion BC Executive Director Faith Bodnar. “We want to celebrate the gifts that people with disabilities bring to our communities and the strength that comes from valuing our diversity.”
The theme for this year’s Community Inclusion Month is “Everyone belongs in BC schools.” It is inspired by Article 24 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which gives students with disabilities the right to an inclusive education that supports each individual’s development to their fullest potential.
Our theme also honours the contributions of BC educators, parents and students who make our schools inclusive, welcoming places that support the diverse needs of all children.
Jackie Carpenter, parent and President of Inclusion BC, says: “it wasn’t that long ago that people with intellectual disabilities were denied the right to live in their community and excluded from all aspects of community life. We have come a long way in a short period of time. But many barriers still exist today and we all need to work together to address them. It’s important to take the time and reflect on how far we’ve come and how far we still need to go.”
Visit the Community Inclusion Month website for more information:
www.inclusionbc.org/communityinclusionmonth
Contact
Danielle Kelliher
Director of Communications
Inclusion BC
604-777-9100 ext. 511
dkelliher@inclusionbc.org

inclusion Powell River’s 2017 AGM!

inclusion Powell River had a very successful AGM last night in the refurbished ARC. Guest Speaker MLA Nicholas Simons talked about the different things the newly minted provincial government is working on regarding issues that directly pertain to those with disabilities, including a basic income pilot project, reinstating the previous transit pass program and the overall poverty reduction strategy. Afterwards the room got down to the business they were all there to do. All said and done, the evening went smoothly and now inclusion Powell River looks toward another bright and successful year.

Inclusion BC Participates in BC Budget Consultation

Summary:
Inclusion BC presented to the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services today, making our priorities known as the BC Government forms its 2018 budget.
We focused on the following provincial budget portfolios:

Children and Family Development

Supports for Children and Youth with Special Needs
K-12 Education

Quality inclusive public education for all diverse learners
Housing

Inclusive solutions in affordable housing
Social Development and Poverty Reduction

Community Living BC services for adults with intellectual disabilities
Persons with Disabilities (PWD) Benefit
Poverty Reduction Strategy/Basic Income

http://www.inclusionbc.org/sites/default/files/Inclusion%20BC%20Budget%20Consultation%20Brief.pdf

Increase to the Annual Earnings Exemption (AEE)

News Release from the Disability Alliance BC:

Increase to the Annual Earnings Exemption (AEE)

September 19, 2017 by DABC

The BC Government has announced that beginning October 1st, 2017, the Annual Earnings Exemption (AEE) for people receiving the Persons with Disabilities (PWD) benefit will be increased by $2,400 a year. People receiving income assistance will be able to earn an additional $200 a month.

From the news release on the BC Government News’ website:

“We are very pleased to see an increase to earnings exemptions come in with the rate increase,” said Jane Dyson, executive director of Disability Alliance BC. “Work offers people dignity, independence and it connects them to their community. Increasing the earnings exemption is also a good step towards poverty reduction.”

For more details, download the news release here or visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2017SDPR0057-001597

Annual Earnings Exemption for Provincial Disability Benefits Increased

Annual Earnings Exemption for Provincial Disability Benefits Increased

Effective October 1, 2017, the Annual Earnings Exemption (AEE) limit will increase by $2,400 for each person receiving Persons with Disabilities (PWD) benefits. This earnings exemption allows people receiving PWD benefits to make money from employment over the calendar year without a reduction of their benefits. The AEE does not apply to money received from most other sources such as Canada Pension Plan benefits or Old Age Security benefits. The new AEE limits will be:

1. Single person with a disability: $12,000
2. Couple, one person with a disability: $14,400
3. Couple, both people with a disability: $24,000

The increase in the AEE rate means that some people who previously exceeded their AEE limit earlier in 2017 may be eligible for a top-up of benefits. They are encouraged to contact the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction for further information.

Disability Alliance BC applauds these changes and the leadership taken by the Hon. Shane Simpson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction in recognizing the social and economic value of supporting people with disabilities in the workforce.

Additional Information

For further information, please contact Sam Turcott, Director of Advocacy Access at 604-872-1278 or toll free 1-800-663-1278.

Long Overdue Investments in People, Affordability Welcomed

NEWS RELEASE
From Inclusion BC & Disability Alliance BC
Victoria, BC – September 11, 2017: BC’s Budget Update and Throne Speech include initiatives that will make a real difference for people with intellectual disabilities, children with special needs and their families, along with an important message of hope that all British Columbians are valued.
Inclusion BC and Disability Alliance BC welcome several key announcements as a positive start.
These include an additional $200/month earnings exemption for Persons With Disabilities (PWD) monthly benefits. This raises the total annual earnings exemption for 2017 to $12,000 for a single person before any reduction in their monthly PWD benefits. BC now has the highest annualized earnings exemption for disability benefit recipients in Canada.
The Budget Update also confirms new dollars for a $100/month increase in PWD rates, which was announced shortly after the new government took office. The increase takes effect in September, bringing the monthly benefit to $1,133 for a single person. The Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction will also receive an additional $16 million for 2017/18 to address social assistance caseload pressures for the current year, with further increases in future years.
“British Columbians with intellectual disabilities and their families have been struggling and falling further behind for many years,” said Inclusion BC Executive Director Faith Bodnar. “These initiatives, along the overall focus on putting people first, on tackling poverty and affordability and on building a better province where everyone belongs is a very welcome message for people who have been without hope for far too long.”
“This is a good start,” added Jane Dyson, Executive Director of Disability Alliance BC. “As Finance Minister Carole James said, these increases are long overdue and we look forward to working with government on a comprehensive poverty reduction plan.”
Inclusion BC notes that many challenges remain, such as the need for a comprehensive operational review of Community Living BC that will address its financial, program and policy challenges. CLBC’s budget does not address waitlists and still reflects expectations for lowered costs per adult, which conflicts with all the evidence.
“Our federation looks forward to working with government to confront these challenges,” Bodnar said. “But we can’t overstate how important it is for British Columbians with disabilities to hear their concerns acknowledged, with concrete commitments to start on immediate improvements.”
Not included in the Budget Update, but mentioned in Friday’s Throne Speech, was confirmation that BC would reinstate a transit pass for PWD recipients, effective January 2018. Minister James confirmed the January 2018 implementation date, with “no clawbacks” from PWD benefits to fund the new pass.
Inclusion BC and DABC also welcomed the commitment to restore the transit pass, and hope to see an equitable approach to providing access to transportation for all PWD recipients.

The Budget Update included additional funding for social policy initiatives, including initial planning for a poverty reduction strategy and a basic income pilot. Inclusion BC and DABC have emphasized that a comprehensive strategy is critical to addressing poverty as a structural barrier that excludes British Columbians with intellectual disabilities from accessing many of the benefits and opportunities of full citizenship.

Other new budget initiatives to address affordability, including reduced MSP premiums and investments in affordable housing, will bring welcome relief for people with intellectual disabilities and their families.

“With the affordable housing initiatives, we need to ensure there is a clear vision for inclusive housing,” Bodnar said. “We’re also looking for portable rental supplements for PWD recipients because the maximum $375 housing allowance is so out of synch with actual costs, especially in key regional markets.”

Other announcements included new investments in public schools, which are struggling to respond to the landmark 2016 Supreme Court ruling that restored former staffing ratios in teachers’ collective agreements.

“An entire generation of students with special needs and their families has suffered tremendously from cuts and underfunding of public education,” Bodnar said. “We have a real opportunity now to restore supports for inclusive education, with the commitment to reinvest in public schools and a new BC curriculum that supports teaching to diversity. We want to work with the Education Ministry, with teachers and parents to ensure that teachers have the support they need to offer quality learning opportunities for all students in inclusive classrooms. That includes restoring resources for student assessment, specialist supports, teacher training and collaboration and classroom aides”

http://www.inclusionbc.org/disability-supports/whats-new/news-release-long-overdue-investments-people-affordability-welcomed