B.C. campaign focuses on rights for people with disabilities
A B.C. group wants to see provincial action to uphold the civil rights of people with disabilities through legislation, such as the direct allocation of funding for community care.
Paul Caune, the executive director of Civil Rights Now!, said his group is asking B.C. politicians to support two laws they are proposing.
The non-partisan society wants to see legislation passed to give all people with disabilities an option for individualized funding, which would see any government support for services go straight to them, giving them the ability to choose their own care. They also want to see the program promoted and made easy to use.
“The money should come directly to you, or you should be able to pick where the money goes,” Caune said in a phone interview.
Caune’s group also wants to see B.C. politicians commit to a law that would enable the B.C. attorney general to investigate alleged rights abuses of people with disabilities living in care, such as a nursing home or group home, and bring necessary remedial action.
“We think that anything else is simply more public ovations...People with disabilities, when your civil rights are violated, you don’t need a good hug, you need a good lawyer,” said Caune.
“Many people with disabilities are too poor to retain effective legal counsel, or they’re in situations where the persons or parties that they allege are harming them, they’re dependent on to stay alive, and that deters them from taking effective action,” he added. “If there was a law that empowered the provincial attorney general to intervene…in any of these situations, there’s a greater probability of justice happening, and also happening quickly.”
The advocacy group is calling their campaign Think Twice because, they say, “in a split second, anyone and everyone can become vulnerable.”
“If you think that people with disabilities are taken care of in this province, you should think twice,” said Caune. “If you think that you’re never going to be a person with a disability, you should think twice. Most Canadians live to be in their eighties. By the laws of probability, most Canadians will be a person with a disability one time in their life.”
Civil Rights Now! plans to share responses from provincial political candidates regarding the proposal in the lead-up to the May 14 election. The group will officially launch the Think Twice campaign at 2:30 p.m. this Saturday (March 23) at the Coal Harbour Community Centre.
Next week, a film produced by Caune and Urban Sherpa Films president Colin Andrew Ford will be screened at Vancouver Public Library central branch. The documentary, titled Hope Is Not a Plan, features interviews with prominent Canadians with disabilities, such as Paralympic gold medallist Paul Gauthier.
“Hope Is Not A Plan is a film about a fact hidden in plain sight in Canada: most Canadian with disabilities, unlike Americans with disabilities, do not have a practical way to enforce the civil rights guaranteed to them by their own Constitution,” Ford said in a news release.
The film will be screened at 6:30 p.m. next Wednesday (March 27).