Advocate wants service access rights for disabled
Published Saturday, December 17, 2011 3:06PM EST
People with disabilities and their families rallied in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday to protest service cuts by Community Living BC, which they say the provincial Liberals have allowed happen.
Several dozen demonstrators gathered to draw attention to the need for more assistance for people who have disabilities as well as for their loved ones.
Rally organizer Kimberly Yanko wants more money put towards this group.
"You're not giving them what they need to survive. You're bringing them down to the very bottom of where you could possibly take them," Yanko told CTV News.
Families across the province have lamented CLBC cut backs, growing waiting lists for services and group home closures for months, and have been holding monthly demonstrations to demand the government recognize the needs of people with disabilities. An additional $70 million is required for the $700-million-dollar budget just to maintain the current service.
Citizens like Paul Caune, the executive director of Civil Rights Now, believe legislation similar to the a U.S. disabilities act is needed, which would give people the legal right to sue the B.C. government if it denies proper services for the province's most vulnerable individuals.
Before the next election he wants assurances in writing from both the Liberals and the NDP outlining what they will do to ensure the right to basic services is legally binding. The NDP won't commit to that, but do say action is needed now.
"The NDP and the Liberals, they see which way the crowd is marching and then they get in front of it. What matters is what they do when they have power," Caune said. ""All the energy needs to be focused into legislation to enshrine access to services."
Caune, who has muscular dystrophy, was inspired by the turnout at this month's rally. He hopes their continued efforts will shed light on the stories of others who are not empowered enough to share their own experiences.
"We have spoken to hundreds of people with disabilities and many of them tell us stories of bullying and intimidation, and people expressing how afraid they are to tell the public what their lives are really like," he said.
The group's next protest will be held on Jan.15 in Surrey, B.C.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Peter Grainger