Contributed by Justine Chubb
B.C. has a vision of becoming the most progressive region for people living with disabilities in Canada. Through a recent public consultation process, the provincial government engaged citizens who are striving to reach the same goal.
From December 3, 2013 to March 11, 2014, the passion, concerns and hopes of individuals with disabilities, along with family, friends, advocates and community members, were expressed and heard. Almost 30,000 visits to their website (http://engage.gov.bc.ca/disabilitywhitepaper/) and close to 1,150 people participated in 23 accessible, in-person consultation sessions around the province. In total, more than 7,500 comments were received and the Disability Consultation Report is the government’s attempt to summarize and reflect the ideas, suggestions and solutions put forth.
As ideas flowed in, themes began to emerge that formed the foundation of this report. The 12 dominant themes include: Inclusive Government, Accessible Service Delivery, Accessible Internet, Accessible Built Environment, Accessible Housing, Accessible Transportation, Income Support, Employment, Financial Security, Inclusive Communities, Emergency Preparedness, and Accessible Consumer Experience.
One of the more prominent themes heard in every community and across all platforms of this consultation is the desire to work and contribute to their communities. Significant concerns and barriers were identified that make it difficult for individuals to secure employment. People strongly expressed how the government needs to play a much larger role in hiring and retaining people with disabilities, and how they should be more recognized and supported within the BC Jobs Plan. To view the full report (several formats available) please see: http://engage.gov.bc.ca/disabilitywhitepaper/disability-consultation-report/
The provincial government’s next step is to convene 300 representatives from the disability community, government and the business community at a Summit on June 16, 2014 in Vancouver. The goal of the two hour meeting is for participants to discuss a shared action plan that will lead to the long-term realization of B.C. becoming the most progressive place in Canada for people living with disabilities. Participation in person may be still be possible, please contact the BC Coalition for People with Disabilities for details. Another option open to all, is viewing a web cast of the event. You will find Summit details online: http://engage.gov.bc.ca/disabilitywhitepaper/about/the-summit/ as well as a copy of the Disability Consultation Report and a message from the Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation, the Hon. Don McRae.