British Columbia

Map of British Columbia

British Columbia offers one of the most unique approaches to disability support delivery in Canada. A crown agency called Community Living BC (CLBC) is the primary provider of services. CLBC has focused on creating stronger life transition planning programs, offering a range of programming both to municipalities and First Nation reserve communities and providing multiple kinds of funding options which families and individuals can choose from to suit their needs. BC is one of the biggest provincial spenders on disability support programs.

In spite of high spending and efforts towards providing quality supports, the CLBC has just undergone a major restructuring.

  • After 4300 requests for assistance being filed to the Advocate for Service Quality (an office that manages complaints against CLBC)and the Minister in charge of CLBC being fired for closing dozens of group homes2, the Premier ordered a review of the CLBC in 2011. The review revealed a number of problems: weak adult programming with no full-day program to replace high school classes, lack of coordination across ministries and agencies providing disability-related supports, poor consultation with families transitioning from group homes to independent living models of care and lack of data tracking on the demand for particular services3.
  • In 2013, there were budget cuts to programming for individuals with developmental disabilities despite an increased demand and government election campaign promises to fund developmental service worker wage increases were not fulfilled4. As a result, agencies cut back programming further in order to meet their commitments to higher staff wages5.
  • In December 2013, a province-wide consultation on the top issues affecting those with disabilities was launched. Thousands of BC residents contributed feedback highlighting the need for more involvement in decision-making processes, easier access to information about disability services, increased information-sharing between government ministries providing disability supports, increased funding for personal supports, home care and supportive and accessible housing options and higher disability assistance rates6. In response, the BC government released “Accessibility 2024”, an action plan to make BC the “most progressive province in Canada for people with disabilities by 2024”7. Unfortunately, the action plan’s avoidance of committing to many tangible targets and oversight of important issues like mental health has evoked criticism from many disability groups and advocates8.

[1] Deputy Minister’s Office. (2011). Improving Services to People with Developmental Disabilities: Deputy Minister’s Review of Community Living British Columbia (p.6). Retrieved from http://www.sdsi.gov.bc.ca/pwd/docs/Improving_Services_to_People_with_Developmental_Disabilities_Report_FINAL.pdf
[2] Mason, G. (2012, June 22). Government funding caused Community living BC Mess. The Globe & Mail [Online]. Retrieved from http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/government-fumbling-caused-community-living-bc-mess/article4365539/
[3] Deputy Minister’s Office. (2011). Improving Services to People with Developmental Disabilities: Deputy Minister’s Review of Community Living British Columbia. Retrieved from http://www.sdsi.gov.bc.ca/pwd/docs/Improving_Services_to_People_with_Developmental_Disabilities_Report_FINAL.pdf
[4] Kines, L. (2013, Feb 20). B.C. plans to slash funding for adults with disabilities. The Times Colonist [Online]. Retrieved from http://www.timescolonist.com/news/local/b-c-plans-to-slash-funding-for-adults-with-disabilities-1.77768 
[5] Sandborn, T. (2013, Oct 2). Government Reneged on Wage Promises, Say Community Social Service Agencies. The Tyee [Online]. Retrieved from http://thetyee.ca/News/2013/10/02/Govt-Reneged-on-Wage-Promises/
[6] Government of British Columbia. (2014). Disability Consultation Report: Moving Together Toward an Accessible BC. Retrieved from http://engage.gov.bc.ca/disabilitywhitepaper/files/2014/05/Disability-Consultation-Report_accessible_web_FINAL.pdf
[7] Government of British Columbia. (2014). Accessibility 2024. Retrieved from http://engage.gov.bc.ca/disabilitywhitepaper/files/2014/06/Accessibility-Summit-LargeType_Accessible.pdf
[8] See Disability Alliance BC’s response (http://blog.disabilityalliancebc.org/?p=2217), Spinal Cord Injury BC’s response (http://sci-bc.ca/news-and-blog/accessibility-2024-step-forward-enough/), Kendra Milne’s (Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives) response (http://blogs.theprovince.com/2014/07/02/kendra-milne-b-c-s-new-plan-for-people-with-disabilities-isnt-good-enough/), and this article from News1130 (http://www.news1130.com/2014/06/18/forced-to-survive-on-dollars-per-day-for-meals-critics-slam-bcs-disability-benefit/).