Empowering Ableism


Civil rights and disability advocates Paul Caune (L) and Josh Vander Vies (R), with Minister of Health Adrian Dix


Paul Caune

July 15th, 2022


This essay is a sequel to “Demolishing Their Future.”


The BC NDP’s elimination of individualized funding (IF) for children with autism will empower ableist bureaucrats in the Ministry of Health (MOH) to justify eliminating IF for adults with physical disabilities.


CHOOSING INDEPENDENCE


In the late 1990s, the last time the NDP was in power, they allowed themselves to be persuaded by disabled citizens to create a MOH policy which would give adults with physical disabilities the option of using IF. This became the Choice in Supports for Independent Living (CSIL) program.


What is the CSIL program? Adults with physical disabilities are given money by the health authorities to allow them to hire their own personal support workers. The CSIL program, when it started, was for maybe thirty disabled citizens.


As of this year, there are 1300 citizens using CSIL. Yet, given that “there are more than 926,100 British Columbians over the age of 15 with a disability”, this seems a surprisingly low number.


Why are so few disabled voters using CSIL? Health authorities, who control access to it, are resistant to the idea of disabled voters being in charge of their own lives.


Health authorities are resistant to the idea of disabled voters being in charge of their own lives

This shouldn't be a shock to anyone given the systemic racism against First Nations by BC's Health Authorities and the long history of abuse of disabled citizens in BC institutions, such as Jericho Hill and Woodlands.


The CSIL program is notoriously difficult to find out about, get accepted into, and use. The application process is unnecessarily complicated and bureaucratic, and it has been underfunded by the BC Liberals and NDP. Surely this is by design.


But for highly-motivated disabled voters, the most successful advocates, CSIL enables their freedom. Without CSIL many of the 1300 current users of it would be potted plants in the mini-dictatorships that are BC's long-term care facilities.


SLASHING INDEPENDENCE


As long as CSIL has existed there have been ableist bureaucrats who want to get rid of it. If the NDP wins the next BC election that would mean they had gotten away with demolishing the futures of autistic children who would have benefited from individualized funding.


The ableist cabal and the political operatives would be able to advise the leadership of the NDP, “The voters let you get away with eliminating IF for autistic children, so there's no political cost in getting rid of IF for physically disabled adults as long as the adult in question isn't Rick Hansen.”


Eliminating CSIL would be spun as making the home support system more efficient and equitable. BC has a shortage of family doctors, but we have a glut of spin doctors.


BC has a shortage of family doctors, but we have a glut of spin doctors

Right now adults with autism can get individualized funding through Community Living BC (CLBC), a crown corporation created in 2005 by the then Liberal government to provide services to citizens with developmental disabilities.


Why does CLBC offer the option of IF to adults with developmental disabilities? Because it is the law in BC.


The legislation that created CLBC explicitly states that “in relation to the provision of community living support, the authority must endeavour to....offer a range of funding and planning options that promote choice, flexibility and self-determination, for example, individualized funding...”.


The twenty years of IF for children with autism was only a policy of MCFD. It was eliminated by a stroke of a Minister’s pen. Exactly the same can happen to MOH IF for adults with physical disabilities, which has been an option for twenty-five years.


But if the government of any party wants to eliminate CLBC IF, they would have to either amend or repeal the Community Living Authority Act.


JOINING FORCES


All adults with sufficiently severe disabilities are eligible in BC for monthly financial support from the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction (MSDPR).


The debate around the monthly cheque is, understandably, how much it is, or rather how little it is, given the cost of living.


The cheque goes directly to the disabled voters and they decide how it will be spent. Because for many it is the only way to survive they have, they will spend it on food and other essentials. The government does not dictate where or how the money will be spent. This is individualized funding.


If you are a child with autism you cannot get individualized funding. As an adult with autism, you can get individualized funding from the CLBC and MSDPR.


Giving children with autism one-on-one therapy, paid for by IF, in the long run gives these children the best chance of living a life of dignity, at less cost to the taxpayers.


But we are not going to do that, the NDP has decided. You get individualized funding options when you turn 19, after the damage has been done.


To repeat: individualized funding for children with autism was just a policy. It was eliminated by the stroke of a pen by the Minister. Individualized funding for adults with physical disabilities is just a policy. CSIL can be eliminated today with another stroke of a minister’s pen.


Voters whose freedom is enabled by individual funding, either through CSIL or CLBC, should join forces with the voters trying to get individualized funding for children with autism restored.


Voters should tell the NDP, the Liberals, and the Greens the only way to get their vote in the next election is to pledge to make all IF options for disabled citizens the law in BC.


The government shouldn't be able to demolish the freedom of disabled voters by the stroke of a trained seal's pen.

 

Spencer van Vloten is the editor of BC Disability. To get in touch, send an email to spencer@bcdisability.com!