Time for BC disabilities act – Civil Rights Now

March 24, 2013 | By | Reply More
Pau Caune, left, speaks during the Think Twice campaign launch Friday evening. Photo: Lev Jackson.

Pau Caune, left, speaks during the Think Twice campaign launch Friday evening. Photo: Lev Jackson.

Group seeking support for BC disabilities act will raise issue during BC election

It’s time for a BC disabilities act to protect vulnerable citizens and the coming election campaign is the perfect venue in which to debate the issue, according to a provincial group representing disabled people.

Civil Rights Now! launched its Think Twice campaign on Saturday at the Coal Harbour Community Centre in Vancouver.

The goal of the Think Twice campaign is to change the way government funding to support disable people is administered in British Columbia. The group has a proposal ready for provincial political parties to review called the Community Care (Direct Payments) Act.

“We think there should be a law to give people with disabilities what is called individualized funding, which is simply any government money allocated to supposedly meet the people with disabilities should go directly to them,” said Paul Caune, director of Civil Rights Now!

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Caune wants to see legislation similar to the 1990 Americans With Disabilities Act, which he says mandates physical and communications accessiblity standards that must be met by both the public and private sector.

bc disabilities act

Jean Lewis, Civil Rights Now! director, being interviewed at the Think Twice campaign launch Friday evening. Photo: Lev Jackson.

“The AWDA created mandatory standards the US federal government is legally obligated to enforce,” said Caune. “The Canadian Charter (of Rights and Freedoms) in regards to people with disabilities is not being enforced.”

Black Americans needed the 1960s civil rights and voting acts to get their constitution enforced by their federal government, says Caune. Canadians with disabilities are in a similar position with respect to their own provincial governments and Ottawa.

“All Canadians have the same rights on paper but not in practice,” he said.

If disabled persons controlled their funding, Caune says, instead of being at the mercy of bureaucrats and care staff, they could change their providers, ensuring they receive the level of support and care they require.

In addition to individualized funding, Civil Rights Now! is proposing the Civil Rights of Persons in Community Care Act, a law that would give the B.C. Attorney General the power to intervene at any institution where there may be evidence of abuse.

“B.C. needs that act because people with disabilities have been subjected to wide spread physical and sexual abuse and neglect in institutions in this province since the 19th century,” said Caune. “The agencies running these institutions have almost always refused to hold the parties responsible for these abuses accountable.”

“We’re not an awareness campaign, we’re not a support group, we have clear and concrete goals,” said Caune. “So what we think will happen with this meeting is NDP and the Liberals, they will commit to make that if they win they will pass the laws that we’re proposing.”

Jean Lewis, a member of the Civil Rights Now! board of directors, feels the Think Twice will bring awareness to the cause and help voters in their decision the upcoming B.C. election.

“We are in search of voters to seek out the candidates who have the strength of character to do the right thing, regardless of political affiliation,” said Lewis.

Both B.C. Liberal and NDP candidates and MLAs were invited to the event. Though no Liberal members were in attendance, the NDP was represented by one MLA and two candidates. Powell River – Sunshine Coast MLA Nicholas Simons, Vancouver – Fairview candidate George Heyman and Vancouver – False Creek candidate Matt Toner indicated they think a BC disabilities act is a good idea.

Independent William Gibbens also showed up and gave his full support to a BC disabilities act going into the election, where he will be in the Point Grey riding against Premier Christy Clark and NDP candidate David Eby.

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Category: British Columbia

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