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Alert: People With Developmental Disabilities At Risk Again Due to BC Budget Cuts

Summary: 
Only two years ago, a round of budget cutting initiatives, termed "service redesign," threatened the rights of people with developmental disabilities in our province to access community services and supports.

Relevant Links:

Letter to Premier Christy Clark from Faith Bodnar, July 24, 2013

Letter from Premier Christy Clark to Faith Bodnar, July 31, 2013

Letter from Minister Don McRae to Faith Bodnar, August 2013

Analysis of BC Budget - June Update, Inclusion BC

 

We are deeply troubled to again face an urgent issue that directly affects the future of supports and services for people with developmental disabilities, their families and the agencies serving and supporting them. 

In April 2013, a new labour contract was ratified by both unions and employers (the community agencies that provide services and supports for people with developmental disabilities) in the community social services sector. This new contract provided for, among other things, a 3% wage increase for front-line workers in the sector.  At the time, community agencies relied on the government’s pledge to fully fund the wage increase, approving the contract with a 96% majority.

Now, the government is refusing to fund the wage increase, instead telling community agencies that they must "find the savings" in order to fund the wage increase.  After over more than a decade of budget cuts, there is no waste to eliminate or savings to find in the budgets of agencies serving people with developmental disabilities and their families in British Columbia. 

A decision by the government not to fund the collective agreement as promised is a decision by government to cut services. This is  and will not be the fault of community agencies, who remain committed to serving people with people with developmental disabilities and their families.  It will be, however,  the fault of government and its decisions to refuse to fund the increase.

Faith Bodnar, Executive Director of Inclusion BC, said in a letter to Premier Christy Clark that “If the government continues with its position not to fund the wage increases it agreed to, it will have devastating impacts on the lives of people with developmental disabilities, their families, the agencies supporting them and the communities where they live. ..The safety of people will be compromised due to a lack of appropriate and sufficient supports.”

During service redesign, budget cuts were pushed back because the voice of families was heard - loud and clear - saying that we will not stand for less than our sons and daughters' full rights and inclusion.  Now is the time to prevent another crisis in community living in British Columbia and call on government to step forward and fully fund the wage increase for all existing and future contracts.

how you can help:

Write to your MLA. Whether your MLA is Liberal or NDP, it is important that they hear from their constituents about this important issue. MLAs across the province have already heard from community agencies – and it is important that they hear now from those most directly impacted by the government’s refusal to live up to its promises.  Here is a brief sample letter.

Find your MLA here. Please remember to let us know if you contact your MLA, by cc'ing us on the email or calling us. info@inclusionbc.org or 604-777-9100.

Write to the Hon. Don McRae, Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation, responsible for Community Living BC.

  • E-mail: don.mcrae.mla@leg.bc.ca
  • Telephone: 250 356-7750
  • Fax: 250 356-7292
  • Please copy us on your communication with the Minister, or call us at 604-777-9100.

Write to or call the opposition critic for Community Living BC, MLA Jenny Kwan. During estimates for the Ministry of Social Development, opposition critic MLA Jenny Kwan raised the concerns about this issue that she received from families. It is important that the opposition continue to hear about this issue from families. You can email Jenny Kwan at jkwan.mla@leg.bc.ca or call her office at 604-775-079. You can reach her toll-free by calling Enquiry BC and asking for the Official Opposition Caucus: 1-800-663-7867

Write to the Premier, Christy Clark. Christy Clark has promised to make BC “the most progressive province for people with disabilities.” Service cuts and congregate care are not progressive. Inclusion BC Executive Director Faith Bodnar wrote to the Premier around this issue.  The Premier needs to know that families are deeply concerned about this issue. You can contact Christy Clark via email at premier@gov.bc.ca. You can phone the Premier's office at 250 387-1715 or fax to 250 387-0087

Share your story. Please contact us at Inclusion BC to share your own experiences of budget cuts and waitlists. Email Lynne Kates at ckates@inclusionbc.org, or call our office at 604-777-9100 to speak with us.

Thanks for your support.