VICTORIA - British Columbians throughout the province are benefiting from the actions included in the one-year progress update on Accessibility 2024, released today.
With almost half a million British Columbians identifying as having a disability, government has set a vision for B.C. to be the most progressive province in Canada for people with disabilities. Accessibility 2024 includes activities that will dissolve barriers and provide people with disabilities more opportunities for employment and to participate fully in their communities.
Over the last year, government, business and the disability community have worked together to implement Accessibility 2024. The Parliamentary Secretary for Accessibility and the Accessibility Secretariat are working across government and sectors to promote accessibility in B.C. As part of the Presidents Group, business leaders are championing employment opportunities for people with disabilities and a newly formed Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) Action Group is promoting the uptake of RDSPs in B.C. The disability community continues to identify actions and initiatives to increase accessibility through the Minister's Council on Employment and Accessibility.
The June 2015 one-year progress report highlights shared accomplishments on themes ranging from employment to the built environment and inclusive communities.
Key year-one accomplishments include:
- B.C. was the first province to introduce Annual Earnings Exemptions for people receiving disability assistance.
- B.C. will become the first province to fully exempt child-support payments for families receiving income and disability assistance (effective September 1, 2015).
- Improving technology supports leading to increased employment opportunities and independence:
- $3 million annually for the Technology at Work program, operated by the Neil Squire Society, to provide assistive technologies.
- $5 million in one-time funding provided for the University of Victoria’s CanAssist program.
- $2.7 million to develop training and resources aligned with in-demand occupations in a range of sectors for post-secondary students with disabilities.
- B.C. was the first province to support the Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP).
- Modernizing B.C.'s guide dog and service dog program.
- The Community Action Initiative awarded $2.9 million in grants to 16 community-based projects to promote positive mental health.
Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation Michelle Stilwell ─
"In the last year we have established a strong foundation to move forward on accessibility issues in B.C. We know that no single government, organization or person can implement our vision for a more accessible B.C. - we all have a role to play. The progress report highlights the shared accomplishments that are a result of government, business and the disability communities working together."
Parliamentary Secretary for Accessibility Linda Larson ─
"British Columbians are passionate and dedicated to making our province more accessible. Over the last year I have visited with communities, spoken with members of the disability community and met with businesses all working towards our shared vision of a more accessible B.C. This work is changing attitudes and opening up new opportunities for people with disabilities in our province."
CEO of Vancity and co-chair of the Presidents Group Tamara Vrooman ─
"Inclusive workplaces - both for employees and customers - support a strong economy and a healthy community. The Presidents Group is working to support greater employment and consumer options for people with a diverse range of abilities in B.C. When we are all included, we all have the opportunity to succeed."
Chair of the Minister's Council on Employment and Accessibility Carla Qualtrough ─
"It's wonderful to see the many Accessibility 2024 accomplishments to date, but there's still much to be done. As we celebrate this one-year anniversary of the action plan, the Minister's Council looks forward to working together with government to help reduce barriers facing people with disabilities in B.C."
Chair of the Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) Action Group Norah Flaherty ─
"The RDSP Action Group is working to make it easier for people with disabilities to save for the future. B.C. has the highest uptake per capita of RDSPs in Canada, but we know that by continuing to raise awareness of the RDSP, we can ensure that people in B.C. who qualify for the RDSP are able to access the thousands of dollars of federal grants and bonds that are available."
- There are approximately 547,000 British Columbians aged 15 and over, who self-identify as having a disability.
- According to the 2012 Canadian Survey on Disability ─ http://ow.ly/OQX1a ─ approximately half of persons with disabilities age 15-64 are employed. 55% of persons with disabilities age 15-64 participate in the labour market, compared to 78% of persons without disabilities.
- People in B.C. have nearly 20% of all RDSPs in Canada, with a total of almost $318 million invested in RDSPs by over 17,000 people with disabilities and their families.
- Cost of workplace accommodations for a person with disability are $500 or less, on average.
- The Home Adaptations for Independence program helps low-income seniors and people with disabilities live more independently by making their homes more accessible and safer. To date, more than 800 households have received assistance through the program.
- From Dec. 3, 2013, to March 11, 2014, the B.C. government held a public consultation to provide British Columbians with a disability, their families and members of the public the opportunity to share their thoughts on what government, businesses and communities can do to reduce barriers and increase accessibility for people living with disabilities.
For more information on Accessibility 2024: www.gov.bc.ca/accessibility
To view the One Year Progress Report on Accessibility 2024 visit: http://ow.ly/OQTJr
View a list of cross-government services for people with disabilities in B.C.:
Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation
Accessibility 2024 is government’s 10-year action plan to make B.C. the most progressive province in Canada for people with disabilities. Twelve building blocks form the foundation of Accessibility 2024. Recent actions as part of each building block include:
Inclusive Government: The Inclusive Government building block focuses on how the structure of government in B.C. includes and affects the daily life of people with disabilities.
- Appointed a Parliamentary Secretary for Accessibility
- Modernized Guide Dog and Service Dog Act passed in April 2015
- Launched Presidents Group of business leaders to champion employment opportunities
- Collaborated with provincial and federal counterparts to facilitate a co-ordinated approach to accessibility
- Established an Accessibility Secretariat: www.gov.bc.ca/accessibility
- Approximately $11 million annually is provided in Community Gaming Grants to organizations that are dedicated to supporting accessibility programming
Accessible Service Delivery: The Accessible Service Delivery building block is about how the B.C. government delivers services to persons with disabilities.
- 80% of government owned and leased building space is fully accessible
- Launched a website to assist people with disabilities to navigate government services: www.gov.bc.ca/disabilityservices
- Updated Reflecting our Communities: Building a Diverse BC Public Service to enhance hiring and advancement of persons with disabilities in the public service
- $5.7 million in funding to Communication Assistance for Youth and Adults (CAYA)
- Created single point of information about ASL interpreter services at: http://ow.ly/OEfH6
Accessible Internet: The Accessible Internet building block focuses on how both public and private Internet services in B.C. serve people with disabilities.
- Continued work to update the government website (gov.bc.ca) to meet international web standards: Web Content Accessibility Guidelines [WCAG 2.0 (AA)] standard by 2016.
- Pledged up to $10 million over two years, to match partner contributions, to expand high-speed Internet access to all British Columbians by 2021.
Accessible Built Environment: The Accessible Built Environment building block looks at how public spaces in B.C. communities are designed and how that design impacts and supports people with disabilities.
- Government is working with the Union of BC Municipalities to refresh the Planning for the Future: Age-friendly and Disability-friendly Official Community Plans guidebook.
- The Building Access Handbook 2014 is available online at: www.housing.gov.bc.ca/pub
Accessible Housing: The Accessible Housing building block is about how public and private housing stock in B.C. supports people with disabilities.
- Developed a checklist of resources that includes information and tools to help British Columbians modify their homes to meet accessibility needs
Accessible Transportation: The Accessible Transportation building block focuses on how public transit and other forms of transportation, such as taxis and ferries, support people with disabilities to travel in and around their B.C. communities.
- Accessibility was identified as a priority in the recently released B.C. on the Move: A 10-Year Transportation Plan
- BC Transit and TransLink have fully accessible bus fleets for wheelchairs and strollers
- BC Ferries continues to improve accessibility on incoming fleet additions
Income Support: The Income Support building block is about disability assistance payments and supports delivered by the B.C. government
- B.C. is the first province to introduce the Annual Earning Exemption so people receiving disability assistance can calculate earnings annually instead of monthly
- B.C. completed the consultation on family maintenance and will become the first province to fully exempt child-support payments for families receiving income or disability assistance (effective Sept. 1, 2015)
- $24.5 million for the Single Parent Employment Initiative to provide education, training and childcare supports to encourage employment opportunities
Employment: The Employment building block includes both private-sector and public-sector employment for people with disabilities in B.C.
- Declaration of September as Disability Employment Month
- $3 million annually for the Technology at Work program, operated by the Neil Squire Society, to provide assistive technologies that support employment goals
- $1.5 million for a public post-secondary training pilot in trades, technical or high labour-demand programs, and an additional $1.2 million in 2015-16
- Up to $1 million annually for research and innovation projects aimed at improving employment outcomes
- $1.6 million in Community and Employer Partnership projects focused on work experience and improved employment outcomes for people with disabilities
Financial Security: The Financial Security building block is about different forms of financial income for people with disabilities, including the Registered Disabilities Savings Plan.
- Declaration of October as Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) Awareness Month
- The creation of an RDSP Action Group to help champion the uptake of RDSPs in B.C.
- Launch of toll-free RDSP hotline (1 844 311-PLAN) and 2015 Edition of Safe and Secure
- Expanded eligibility for Endowment 150 to include more children with disabilities from low-income families
Inclusive Communities: The Inclusive Communities building block looks at how people with disabilities live their daily lives at the local community level in B.C., and about how local governments and the Province can work together to make community amenities more accessible.
- Accessibility upgrades in Prince George - a legacy of the 2015 Canada Winter Games
- $335,000 in support for the Northern Sport Accessibility 2015 partnership to help build more inclusive northern communities
- $5 million in one-time funding for the University of Victoria’s CanAssist program to develop new devices and technologies that help enhance independence
- $4.5-million, three-year partnership between the Ministry of Health and Centre for Hip Health and Mobility
- Government has worked with the Union of BC Municipalities to refresh the Planning for the Future: Age-friendly and Disability-friendly Official Community Plans guidebook
- The Community Action Initiative (CAI), a provincewide program that supports mental health and substance use groups throughout B.C., awarded $2.9 million in grants to 16 community-based projects that promote positive mental health
- $3 million over three years to the Brain Injury Alliance
Emergency Preparedness: The Emergency Preparedness building block is about how B.C. communities incorporate the needs of people with disabilities in their emergency planning, and how those needs are met during an emergency response.
- Ongoing collaboration and consultation with people with disabilities on all aspects of disaster preparedness and response
Consumer Experience: The Consumer Experience building block focuses on how the private sector provides goods and services to people with disabilities who live and travel to B.C.
- Accessibility improved in B.C. Parks, including Liard Hot Springs, Naikoon Park’s Tow Hill, Sea to Sky Gondola in Stawamus Chief Provincial Park, Roderick Haig-Brown Provincial Park and Elk Falls Provincial Park
- Work underway for new rest areas featuring higher accessibility standards, like upgraded Kiskatinaw rest area on Highway 97
- Partnered with Rick Hansen Foundation to expand the Planat™ tool in B.C. to provide employment opportunities for people with disabilities and share accessibility reviews of businesses and public locations
Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation