Raise the rates, leave our bus pass alone — Inclusion BC fights for people with disabilities
Nelson/Creston MLA Michelle Mungall helped deliver a 15,000-signature petition to the BC Legislature Wednesday as part of a fight by Inclusion BC and TAPS (Together Against Poverty Society) to help people with disabilities in BC.
The Raise the Rates, Leave our Bus Pass Alone petition was also delivered to Hon. Minister Michelle Stilwell’s and Premier Christy Clark’s constituency office in Parksville and Kelowna, respectively.
“I rise to present a petition,” Mungall, NDP opposition critic for the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation, said in the Legislature.
“This petition has over 15,000 people signing it. They are calling on the government to bring back the $45-per-year bus pass for people with disabilities, eliminate the new $52-per-month bus pass fee, let everyone receiving PWD benefits keep the $77-per-month increase and raise the PWD benefit rate to $12,000 [sic] per month by October 1, 2016, to reflect the The reason for the fight is due to changes to the bus pass during BC Budget, tabled February 16, 2016.”
Read full transcript of Mungall’s address to the BC Legislature.
Inclusion BC said people with disabilities received a small increase to their disability benefits in the budget but there was a catch. The $77 per month increase was tied to the cost of a person’s transportation, as they would no longer be able to purchase an annual bus pass for a $45 annual fee.
The new cost of the bus pass would rise from zero to o $52 per month, plus an annual $45 administration fee, which for bus pass users, means an increase of $25 per month.
Inclusion BC and TAPS are asking the government to:
- Bring back the $45 per year bus pass for people with disabilities.
- Eliminate the new $52/month bus pass fee.
- Let everyone receiving PWD benefits keep the $77/month increase.
- Raise the PWD benefit rate to $1200 per month by October 1, 2016 to reflect the cost of living.
“We will continue to advance the interests of people with disabilities in B.C. who need a significant raise in rates,” said Faith Bodnar, Inclusion BC Executive Director.
“We want this to be the first step in bringing disability rates to respectful and liveable levels for some of the more vulnerable people in B.C. I would like nothing better today than to be congratulating the Minister and Government on the steps of the legislature for giving everyone a $77 increase without any claw backs.”
Inclusion BC has been hearing from people and groups across the province who are committed to continuing public pressure, who want to mobilize and who are not willing to give up until the Minister reverses her decision.
Many have already written letters or visited their MLA and Inclusion BC will ramp up efforts in mobilizing people to speak out to their MLA, the Premier and Minister Stilwell.
Inclusion BC said Minister Stilwell has requested a meeting in late March with disability advocates, including Inclusion BC, to “discuss the changes, and concerns over some of the misinformation that is out in the public.”
Inclusion BC has accepted the meeting request and will continue demanding that the provincial government reverse their decision to claw back the bus pass from the benefit rate increase and come up with a serious plan to raise people out of poverty and increase and index the PWD rates to reflect the rising cost of living.