People with disabilities in BC may be missing out on basic services: AG

Auditor general found several problems with the provincial program

The Canadian Press

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VICTORIA (NEWS1130) – BC’s auditor general is warning that disabled people in the province may be at risk of not having their basic needs met.

Russ Jones has found several problems with the provincial program aimed at helping people with disabilities in his report into the Social Development Ministry.

For one, Jones says the ministry doesn’t define the extent to which basic needs should be met.  He points out people on disability get $900 a month for food and shelter, but the government hasn’t evaluated if clients are having their needs met on that income.

“That level of assistance has been in place since 2007 and hasn’t changed. The government has to define what standard of living they want to achieve,” he notes.

Jones also says the government has limited information on how effective the program has been.

“It’s very difficult to determine whether there are some people who are receiving assistance maybe shouldn’t,  or whether some people who are receiving assistance should be receiving more because their circumstances have changed.”

He says that people living with disabilities already face many challenges, and the program that should be simple and accessible is not. The report points out how complex the Disabilities Assistance Program is to navigate, requiring interaction online, in person and over the phone, which he says can be pretty daunting for people with challenges.

Jones makes 10 recommendations, including implementing ongoing eligibility checks because some recipients may be getting undeserved benefits while others miss out.

Robin Loxton with the BC Coalition of People with Disabilities says the report echoes their fears that people who need more help are not getting it.

“We literally have people come in every day with that story,” he says.  “We try to make sure that people are getting as much as they can in terms of what they are entitled to, but there are not enough resources or advocates to go around.”

People on disability are sharing their frustrations, now that the report has been made public.

A mom from Tri-Cities shared her story with News1130. The woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, has been on disability for the last five years, suffering from has spinal cord compression disease. She’s also raising three kids.

She’d like the disability program to kick in some help for the cooking and the cleaning in the household. But she’s discovered she needs to be elderly or developmentally delayed to get that kind of help.

“I have friends who help me and I gauge my energy level throughout the day. But if other disabled people can get the help, why can’t someone my age? I am, after all, permanently disabled.”

She says her circumstances aren’t resonating with people at the Ministry of Social Development.

“Last year when I talked with someone at the ministry, the worker told me that if I couldn’t do my chores, I should go into a home. That’s not what I need.”

http://www.news1130.com/2014/05/15/people-with-disabilities-in-bc-may-be-missing-out-on-basic-services-ag/

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