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COMMENT: Disability community stunned by provincial cuts

People with disabilities who are already struggling to manage on provincial disability benefits have been told by the Province it will no longer pay for some of the medically essential items and services they depend on.

Beginning April 1st, the Province will no longer fund a range of health items including pre-made foot orthotics, diabetic glucometers and a bottled water supplement of $20 a month for people with conditions such as HIV/AIDS.

“We understand the government is dealing with an economic downturn, but cutting funding for medically essential items to people with disabilities who are already struggling to get by is not the way to deal with it, said Robin Loxton of the BC Coalition of People with Disabilities (BCCPD).

“This will not save money,“ said the Coalition’s Executive Director Jane Dyson. “People’s overall health and well-being will deteriorate and they will access the health system more as a result.”

The BCCPD is also particularly concerned about the impact the government’s decision to end the $75 shelter minimum will have on people who are homeless. “Homeless people have shelter-related costs. This cut means these people with disabilities will receive only $531 a month to live on, said Loxton.

The government is also restricting dental services for people with disabilities; for example, beginning April 1st the Province will only pay for x-rays every two years. “The lack of adequate dental coverage has been a long-time concern of our community. Dental health is extremely important and the amount the Province pays is already inadequate at $1,000 every two years,” said Dyson.

Background: People who receive BC disability benefits get a maximum of $375 a month for housing and $531 for everything else, including food and clothing. In order for provincial benefits recipients to access health supplements from the government they must meet all the eligibility requirements under the legislation.

The text of this article was taken from a BCCPD press release.

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