Christy Clark unveils made-in-B.C. accessibility strategy

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Christy Clark disability reportVancouver:  Premier Clark has unveiled Accessibility 2024, a 10-year plan. “This is more than a plan,” said Premier Clark. “It’s a shared commitment between government, businesses and communities to make our province a place where disabilities are no barrier to living full lives, contributing to communities, and where no British Columbian is ever told their goals and dreams aren’t realistic because of their disability.”

To move the accessibility plan forward, Boundary-Similkameen MLA Linda Larson has been appointed as parliamentary secretary for accessibility to the Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation. Larson will work closely with the business and disability communities and a new BC Accessibility Secretariat to open in the fall.

Accessibility 2024 is designed around 12 building blocks – ranging from employment to accessible service delivery The Province plans to spend $3 million annually for assistive technologies that support employment goals; $1.5 million for an innovative public post-secondary training pilot in trades, technical or high labour-demand programs. Up to $1 million annually will be invested for research and innovation projects aimed at improving employment outcomes.$2 million in one-time funding provided for the University of Victoria’s CanAssist program to develop new devices and technologies that help enhance independence.

But NDP has hit back saying that, “The B.C. Liberals consult, consult and consult some more, then decide in a report that they won’t make any changes to their heartless income assistance clawbacks until there is more consultation.”

Michelle Mungall, New Democrat social development critic says, “the fact that the B.C. Liberals called the report a ten-year plan, yet offered no timeline on ending child support clawbacks showed that they have no real plan to improve the lives of families who depend on disability assistance. That is not acceptable.”

“It’s disgraceful for the Premier to say she will only do the right thing and ensure people living with disabilities have access to safe housing, healthy food and other basic necessities years from now, and only if the B.C. LNG industry succeeds,” said Mungall. “Children and families living in poverty need support today, not a decade from now, if ever.”Mungall said that the report itself reflected the incredible strength and tenacity of people who live with disabilities, their families and their supporters, despite the lack of significant commitments from government stemming from the report, especially for people whose disabilities mean they cannot work.

 Speaking with Asian Journal, Mungall said, “The biggest barrier a person with disability has is poverty. The Auditor General in report in May also mentioned poverty as a challenge. This government has no concrete plan to reduce poverty now, what we hear is promises for future.”

The govt. received clear feedback in the consultation process for this white paper that people want to see an end to the claw back of child support for children whose parents are receiving income assistance. The consultation to this has already taken place. The only plan the government has is to further consult on ending the claw back. There is no action, all they are saying is let’s talk some more.” Action is long overdue; all we see in this report is promises to may do something in future. Time for talk is over the Premier had her talking time, it’s time for action”