Unfortunately, there is a great deal of misunderstanding in the community about our government’s recent announcement of $170 million in new funding to increase assistance rates for persons with disabilities and to assist them with their transportation needs.
It has been described as being everything from a clawback to an example of government giving with one hand and taking from the other. Nothing could be further from the truth. Let me explain.
To begin with, this new funding arose from a concern of our government that not all persons with disabilities in the province are being treated fairly. Specifically and for example, under the current system 35,000 people receive an extra $52 a month benefit in the form of a subsidized bus pass, while some 45,000 persons with disabilities receive nothing to assist them in their transportation needs.
To correct this unfairness and respect more personal choice, we are providing an increase of up to $77 per month beginning Sept. 1, 2016 to ensure everyone gets the same amount of supports. Some people may wish to spend some of that money on a subsidized bus pass, as they have done in the past, at a cost of $52 per month and the annual administration fee of $45 which continues to apply.
This would still leave them with more money than they would have under the current system.
Some people have argued that we should let people keep the subsidized bus pass, plus give them the additional $77 a month.
Doing that, however, would take us back to being unfair to all of those people who choose or need to travel in other ways. As significant as this new money is, we will always try our best to assist further with the transportation needs of persons with disabilities.
We want to do more, and as much as we can push the limits of affordability, we will. That being said, in the future, we need to do better so that good news doesn’t become misunderstood news.
Darryl Plecas, MLA Abbotsford South