Below, please see a press release issued June 27, 2016 by Inclusion BC and a group of stakeholders.
Back in March we met with Michelle Stilwell, Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation to discuss changes to the PWD program and resulting impacts on persons with disabilities as well as low PWD Rates.
This press release is in response to the Minister’s recent announcement eliminating the $45 annual bus pass fee.
By acknowledging MSDSI’s actions cancelling the yearly administration fee for the Bus Pass, we are hopeful that we can continue discussions with the Minister with a focus on what is the primary issue facing the 100,000 people on PWD in BC – PWD Rates. Inclusion BC remains committed to addressing the poverty of persons with disabilities in BC and calling for a significant increase in and indexing of PWD Rates in BC.
Signed: Faith Bodnar, Inclusion BC Executive Director
June 27, 2016
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
In March 2016, at the invitation of the Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation, a small group of stakeholders from the province’s disability sector met with Minister Stilwell and senior ministry staff. This meeting was held in relation to the messaging conveyed from the 2016 provincial budget announcement regarding the province’s bus pass program, and to further the commitment of the government to work with stakeholders for increased opportunities and equality for all people with disabilities within British Columbia.
During this meeting a number of priority areas facing persons with disabilities were discussed, foremost being the critical need to increase the Persons with Disabilities (PWD) assistance rate to a level that will ensure the health, well-being and inclusion of one of the province’s most vulnerable populations, both currently and in the future.
Other areas discussed included the need for increased information sharing and collaboration with stakeholders by government, including working together to ensure accurate, plain language messaging in relation to any changes to PWD benefits. The stakeholder group additionally requested the elimination of the annual $45 bus pass administration fee.
We are pleased that the Minister has begun the process to address the areas discussed at the March meeting and, as a first step, has eliminated the annual bus pass fee and with it, one of the many barriers faced by British Columbians with disabilities.
We look forward to the ongoing work and the forward movement of the province to address the priority areas outlined during the March meeting, all of which are necessary for the realization of government’s commitment to make British Columbia the most progressive province in Canada for people with disabilities.
Neil Belanger – Executive Director – British Columbia Aboriginal Network on Disability Society; Faith Bodnar – Executive Director – Inclusion BC; Jane Dyson –
Executive Director – Disability Alliance BC; Al Etmanski – Co-Founder Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network (PLAN); Parent Advocate Richard Faucher –
Executive Director – Burnaby Association for Community Inclusion;
Dr. Michael J. Prince – Lansdowne Professor of Social Policy – University of Victoria