The B.C. government is committed to making life better for people living with disabilities, including funding services that support people with disabilities in the province.
The Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction is leading work across government to improve access for people with disabilities.
This work includes a consultation process beginning in fall 2019 regarding new accessibility legislation which will make B.C. a more inclusive and welcoming place. Accessibility legislation is fundamental to bringing about a culture shift toward greater inclusion and accessibility in the province’s workplaces and communities.
- More than 926,100 British Columbians 15 years old and older, or 24.7% of the population, are identified as having a disability. (Statistics Canada, Canadian Survey on Disability 2017)
Type of disability
- Categories of disability included in the Canadian Survey on Disability 2017 are seeing, hearing, mobility, flexibility, dexterity, pain-related, learning, developmental, mental health-related and memory.
- Some of the most common disabilities are invisible, including:
- mental illness and addictions: examples include major depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and anxiety disorders, port-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), etc.;
- brain injury;
- epilepsy; and
- Most people with disabilities (70%) report more than one disability.
Statistics Canada, Canadian Survey on Disability 2017 – B.C. findings
- The most common types of disabilities among British Columbia’s population were those related to pain, flexibility and mobility.
- Following the same trends as the rest of Canada, the most common disability reported was pain-related, with 64.1% of respondents reporting this as one of their disabilities.
- For youth, mental-health related (61.7%) and learning disabilities (38.1%) are the most commonly reported.
- A higher percentage of men than women reported hearing, learning and developmental disabilities. This was consistent with what was reported at the national level.
- Compared to Canada-wide statistics, B.C.’s typical working-age population with disabilities was slightly less likely to have disabilities related to pain, flexibility or mobility, but slightly more likely to have disabilities related to mental health, seeing, hearing or memory.
The B.C. government funds services that support people with disabilities in B.C.
2019-20 Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction expenditures:
- $281.1 million over three years to fund a $50 rate increase for income and disability assistance, effective April 1, 2019. This builds on the $100 rate increase provided in September 2017, raising rates by a total of $150 per month or $1,800 a year.
- A $17.3-million WorkBC contract over three years equips people with disabilities with assistive technology to support employment opportunities.
- The Assistive Technology Services (ATS) program is delivered provincially by the Neil Squire Society, providing consistent, reliable service for people with disabilities, no matter where they live.
- Supports available through the ATS program include:
- mobility supports, alternative keyboards, voice input equipment and other workplace modification technology;
- advice to employers on how to be more accessible and inclusive; and
- training to help people navigate other services and supports to assist with employment.
- $9.3 million over three years for augmentative communication technology and professional support for adults with severe communication disabilities, supporting them to live with independence and as full participants in their communities. This is administered through Communications Assistance for Youth and Adults.
- $500,000 in grants to be distributed by Disability Alliance BC to not-for-profit organizations to fund accessibility projects, such as accessible education and learning, sports and recreation, arts, culture and tourism, education and learning, community participation, emergency planning and response, and accessible employment and community connection projects.
- $25,000 provided to the British Columbia Aboriginal Network on Disability Society (BCANDS), to support the organization’s Indigenous Disability and Wellness Gathering. BCANDS is Canada’s first and only stand-alone organization serving Indigenous peoples with disabilities.
- $25,000 provided to Inclusion BC to support the Inclusion 2019 learning conference (held in May), profiling the latest learning and resources on inclusion and diversity.
Community Living BC (CLBC)
- The Province is providing CLBC with $1.07 billion in 2019-20, a $66.5 million increase from 2018-19. CLBC provides services that directly support people with developmental disabilities to be included in their communities.
- As of March 31, 2019, CLBC provides more than 22,200 British Columbians with a range of services, including employment, residential, community inclusion and respite.
- CLBC offers home-sharing services to almost 4,200 people in B.C. as one of its residential services. The B.C. government increased funding for home-sharing services by $45.4 million over three years.
- CLBC’s include Me! survey helps create more inclusive services by measuring quality of life from the perspective of the individuals CLBC serves. Between 2012 and 2018, more than 200 self-advocates have been trained, hired and paid competitive wages to do peer-to-peer interviews that gather data on quality of life, including rights, interpersonal relations and social inclusion. A self-advocate is a person who advocates on their own behalf to have their voice heard on issues that are important to them, to defend and safeguard their rights and have their views and wishes considered when decisions are being made about their lives.
- The B.C. Initiative for Inclusive Post-Secondary Education, under Steps Forward, ensures students with developmental disabilities can access post-secondary education. Steps Forward supports people on seven campuses throughout B.C. with funding from CLBC.
- Since 2010, nearly 450 British Columbians have been nominated for an annual provincial Widening Our World Award to recognize their efforts in creating more inclusive and accessible communities, where people with disabilities feel welcome, valued, included and respected.
Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP)
- The RDSP is a savings tool that does not affect income assistance or disability assistance and helps people with disabilities plan a financially secure and independent future.
- B.C. continues to lead Canada with the highest per capita uptake of RDSP in the country:
- 40% of eligible people now hold an RDSP (31,000 British Columbians).
- The average value of an RDSP in December 2017 was $24,300 — $2,050 above the national average.
- As of December 2016, the total value of RDSPs in B.C. is $650 million, well above the national average.
- The RDSP Action Group is an advisory group to government that champions uptake of the RDSP in B.C. and helps eligible British Columbians with disabilities get enrolled in the program.
- The RDSP is a powerful savings tool for planning for the future, as anyone eligible for the Disability Tax Credit can open an RDSP.
United Nations' Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) and the Optional Protocol
- The Province, along with the Government of Canada, supports the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) and the Optional Protocol, and is committed to upholding and safeguarding the principles outlined in the UNCRPD, including full and effective participation and inclusion in society, and equality of opportunity.
TogetherBC: British Columbia’s Poverty Reduction Strategy
Mandated through the Poverty Reduction Strategy Act, B.C.’s first poverty reduction strategy (March 2019) sets targets to reduce the overall poverty rate in British Columbia by at least 25% and the child poverty rate by at least 50% by 2024.
TogetherBC includes policy changes that help people, including those with disabilities, access the supports they need when trying to overcome social and economic barriers. Changes that took effect July 1, 2019, include:
- expanding access to the identification supplement;
- increasing access and simplifying the application process for the persons with persistent multiple barriers category;
- higher asset limits; and
- expanding access to nutritional supplements.
Additional changes will be made in the future to further enhance supports for people with disabilities.
- May/June includes BC AccessAbility Week, a week to promote and celebrate diversity and inclusion, and to recognize accessibility and the efforts of individuals and organizations that actively remove barriers for people with disabilities in their communities. BC AccessAbility Week begins the last week in May and overlaps into June along with National AccessAbility Week, which takes place every year starting the last Sunday in May.
- September is Disability Employment Month in B.C., an opportunity to celebrate the contributions of people with disabilities in the workforce and the employers and communities who support their success.
- October is RDSP Awareness Month, an opportunity to promote the long-term federal savings plan that helps eligible people with disabilities save for their future.
- October is also Community Inclusion Month, a month to celebrate individuals with developmental disabilities in all aspects of their community and highlight the importance of all people being able to contribute their abilities and to secure their rightful place at home, school, work and in the community.
- November is Indigenous Disability Awareness Month in B.C., a month where the unique contributions Indigenous peoples with disabilities make to the province are recognized and acknowledged.
- Dec. 3 is International Day of Persons with Disabilities.
Statistics Canada – Canadian Survey on Disability 2017 (release date Nov. 28, 2018): https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/en/pub/89-654-x/89-654-x2018001-eng.pdf?st=wy9sYqDL
Conference Board of Canada (February 2018): http://www.rickhansen.com/Portals/0/WhoWeAre/CBoC-final-report-Feb2018-accessible.pdf
B.C. government accessibility initiatives: www.gov.bc.ca/accessibility
B.C. government services for people with disabilities in B.C.: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/family-social-supports/services-for-people-with-disabilities/supports-services
WorkBC Assistive Technology Services: https://www.workbc.ca/Employment-Services/Assistive-Technology-Services.aspx
Community Living BC: https://www.communitylivingbc.ca/
Re-Imagining Community Inclusion report: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/british-columbians-our-governments/organizational-structure/ministries-organizations/social-development-poverty-reduction/re-imagining-community-inclusion-march-2019.pdf