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BC Election Wish List – 7 key asks from BCEdAccess

BCEdAccess is a volunteer run organization of parents and guardians of children, youth and adults with disabilities in BC. Across all major parties there is little to no reference to disabled children, youth and adults in their election platforms. We have a wish list that we hope will be enacted by the new government and we hope you will ask your local candidates about some of these things!

Don’t forget to vote by October 24th, 2020 – here’s how:

https://elections.bc.ca/voting/voting-safely-and-covid-19/

KEY ELECTION ASKS:

  1. We are participating members of a number of organizations who have done significant work on questions for candidates in the upcoming BC election:

EA Standards of Practice Working Group

Education assistants are a vital member of ‘team child’ for our families. We were so pleased to be invited to take part in this working group which includes EAs, colleges, unions, and parents. This work has been ongoing for many years.

eastandardsbc.ca

As the name implies, this group is committed to the establishment of provincially mandated standards of practice for Education Assistants in BC.

Inclusion BC

We’re very pleased to be one of many member organizations who are a part of Inclusion BC. They have an excellent election blog with several candidate questions and we wholly support all of them. In particular we’d like to highlight this one in the area of Inclusive Education:

If elected, will you ensure that the Ministerial Policy on Inclusive Education is
updated to bring it up to the standards set by the UN Convention on the Rights of
Persons with Disabilities which establishes inclusive education as a fundamental right of
children?

First Call BC

We’re so glad to have joined the First Call BC coalition. Their work in child and youth advocacy is so important to our province, and to our own member families. They also have an excellent election toolkit that we fully endorse. Here’s one recommendation we think is particularly important:

  • If elected, will you support increasing income assistance and disability assistance rates to bring them in line with actual living expenses and index them to inflation?

Champions for Inclusive Health Stakeholder Coalition

We’re pleased to be able to take part in this important coalition which works together to understand and address the challenges that create health inequality for individuals with intellectual disabilities. They are asking 4 key questions of candidate, and here’s one we think is so important to reflect the value of Nothing About Us Without Us:

Will you engage individuals with intellectual disabilities and their supporters during the policy-making process on all issues that impact their health and wellbeing?

https://www.specialolympics.ca/british-columbia/2020-election

2. In addition to the 4 key asks above and the more detailed lists of questions from each organization, there are 3 actions we are asking candidates to consider that we think would have a big impact:

Ministerial Mandate Letter

We need the Premier to name students with disabilities and diverse abilities in the Minister of Education’s mandate letter, in order to ensure that this is a key part of the work within the Ministry. British Columbia has a responsibility under human rights that is not being realized. The UN special rapporteur did not have many positive things to say about inclusion and our education system in Canada during her visit. This issue has a long history in BC along with most other provinces, and we have much to do to fix this issue and live up to Article 24 on the right to education for persons with disabilities, and our committments to UN Sustainability Goal #4 to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.

https://www.un.org/development/desa/disabilities/convention-on-the-rights-of-persons-with-disabilities/article-24-education.html

https://sdgs.un.org/goals/goal4

Accountability for IEP Outcomes

Accountability for student success in the BC education system is complaints-driven. We would like to see, as an accountability measure, an audit of the outcomes of IEPs for students, at least annually. Regular audits of a selection of each district’s IEPs would bring accountability to School Districts on how the money provided by the Ministry of Education for students with disabilities is spent, and whether the choices districts are making are having a positive outcomes for student success.

Increase Funding and Resources to Legal Aid and the Human Rights Tribunal

An increase in legal aid funding is needed so that parents of disabled children and youth, and disabled adults, are able to address issues of discrimination in public services such as education. Right now this path is unaffordable for most. School Districts have lawyers on retainer and a huge budget for this purpose, placing an undue burden on families from the start in terms of addressing issues of discrimination.

In addition, despite a 60% increase in the number of human rights complaints in the last 4 years, the Human Rights Tribunal has not expanded staffing since 2003 when it was created. This recommendation was made by the Community Legal Assistance Society (CLAS) of BC’s Human Rights Clinic:

Ensure the Human Rights Tribunal is properly resourced to accomplish its mandate

We support this and all their other recommendations outlined in this post below:

https://bchrc.net/bc-election-2020-letter-to-parties-re-human-rights-reforms/

Please feel free to email your candidates about any or all of these asks – we urgently need a conversation about students with disabilities, and disabled people in general, to get started in this province. With statistics showing between 20 and 25% of people across Canada are disabled, it’s shocking that it isn’t a significant part of public discourse. This needs to change.

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