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Inclusion BC Interpretation of the Provincial Budget Alert 2024

 

 

 

 

 

Our interpretation of the Throne Speech on February 20th and Budget 2024: Taking Action For You is that the government’s aim is to bolster support for the working middle class while maintaining the supports for everyone else in the province. Children and Youth with Support Needs, Person with Disabilities Benefits, and Community Living BC all received a population growth increase to maintain current levels of support with a hint of improvement in Education and Health.

Below you’ll find our recommendations, followed by the related dollar amounts allotted in this year’s budget. There are a few opportunities to explore, but still significant work to do in important areas for people with disabilities.

Inclusion BC Snapshot

The 2024 budget consultation process restricted participants to three recommendations. In preparation for this year’s budget, we brought our membership together to ask a straightforward question – If the government of BC could make one investment to improve the quality of life of those we work for and with what would it be?

Our members agreed the top funding priorities are a livable income and secure housing, closely followed by improved health and mental health support for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The combination of these three inequities continues to keep people excluded from their communities and prevents them from accessing the systems of support they need. Inclusion BC will be releasing five position statements leading up to the October 17th provincial election related to our budget recommendations. The first of these position statements on Access to Health and Coordination of Care for Adults with Intellectual and Development Disabilities is already available for your reference. Read the plain language version of the position statement here.

 


Livable Income & Housing Security

Our Recommendation

Raise the rate for the Person with Disabilities (PWD) benefit to $2,200 per month, increase the associated health supplemental benefits and add $3.4 million in new annualized funding for 400 additional portable rental housing supplements in addition to the $500 shelter allowance to ensure that people with intellectual disabilities who rely on PWD benefits can access safe, accessible, and inclusive market housing anywhere in BC.

Budget 2024: Taking Action For You

  • $300 million to support more people receiving income and disability assistance.

This investment does not represent an increase in individual supports. It is meant to address the increased number of people receiving the benefit at the current rates.

This lack of investment is very disappointing, and all our efforts will now shift to getting the federal government to budget the national disability benefit. We will continue to carve out access points for people with disabilities and their families in the provincial housing strategy.

 


Inclusive Health & Mental Health Strategy

Our Recommendation

Targeted investment of $1 million for the development of an Inclusive Health and Mental Health strategy to adequately respond to the health and mental health needs of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and the creation of a provincial oversight structure to provide leadership of these services.

Budget 2024: Taking Action For You

  • $2 billion to support people’s access to the full range of health services, including primary and acute care, long-term care, assisted living, home care, mental health and substance use, and recruitment and retention of healthcare professionals.

Although there was no reference to disability, we do feel this positions us well to meet with the Ministry of Health and, guided by our position statement, request the development of a targeted strategy and the creation of an oversight structure attached to this investment.

 


Support for Community Living Organizations

Our Recommendation

Establish an Innovation Fund of $1 million through the Office of the Parliamentary Secretary for Community Development and Non-Profits to support community living organizations to invest in new solutions and approaches to strengthen the inclusion and resilience of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in their home communities.

Budget 2024: Taking Action For You

  • $105 million over three years to help more adults with developmental disabilities access services.

This investment represents the growing number of people receiving Community Living BC funded services and does not reflect an investment in new solutions or strengthening the sector. We have more work to do.

 


Other Highlights

Education and Childcare

  • $255 million in funding over three years for the Classroom Enhancement Fund.
  • $30 million over three years for learning supports.

In the budget background documents these investments are attached to increased enrollment numbers in our province. It will potentially maintain the current state of education, but it is still inadequate to advance inclusion in BC classrooms for students with disabilities. The learning support investment is specifically to enhance supports for students with dyslexia and related learning differences, which will be welcome.

Children and Youth with Support Needs

  • $26 million for children and youth with an autism diagnosis and families accessing medical benefits for children and youth with severe disability or complex health care needs.

These investments are to cover the growth in demand. While this will support some families, there is no indication of investments to increase access to respite or other services for many more families with children and youth with disabilities in dire need of support.

This is on Inclusion B.C Website go to the link here

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