Tuesday’s BC Budget presentation by British Columbia finance minister Mike De Jong announced a small increase for people on disability assistance, but bus passes would no longer be free for people with disabilities.
De Jong said disability assistance will increase by $77 per month, beginning Sept. 1, 2016. Disability benefits for an individual have been frozen at $906 a month since 2007.
Jordan Weaver, a part-time BCIT student working towards his compute systems technology diploma and a single father to a two-year old son, has some health issues but says he’s trying to better himself by going to school and hopes one day he won’t need to rely on disability.
“What upsets me the most is year after year the disabled get ignored,” Weaver said. “I find it sickening that they froze it this long.”
For those who receive a special transportation subsidy, at $66 per month, the $77 a month increase will leave them with $11 leftover.
With a freeze in place since 2007, it’s a 0.13 per cent benefits increase over nine years.
The $52 monthly bus pass, which will have to be paid for after Sept.1, will leave those individuals with $25 leftover, or a 2.75 per cent increase since 2007.
“This won’t eliminate the challenges those living with disabilities face, and it won’t suddenly make life easier,” De Jong said in his speech, “but we hope it will help make life a little less hard.”
Individuals who don’t receive the special transportation subsidy or transit assistance will receive the full $77 per month, at an 8.5 per cent increase in nine years.
De Jong said all British Columbians “deserve to have their need to move about taken into account.”
“Disability assistance is there to promote greater independence for people with disabilities,” he said. “Transportation is fundamental to independence.”
De Jong claims they want to be able to provide help and support to the most vulnerable and create support that will make a difference.
As a single father, Weaver is hopeful things will get better for him.
“Since I’ve had my boy I definitely have a new drive to make sure of that,” he said. “I’m all he’s got right now.”