2023 BC Budget Consultation Presentation
The Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services is one of ten permanent parliamentary committees of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia. Each year, the committee holds province-wide consultations to seek the views of British Columbians on priorities for the next provincial budget. Find details HERE.
This month, Margaux, one of our Board Members, was able to speak with the Committee. Each presenter gets only 5 minutes to share opinions about the provincial budget and BC's finances. Here is Margaux's speech:
My name is Margaux Wosk. I am the Regional Director of Lower Mainland West for BC People First. I am Autistic and self-employed.
My business is called Retrophiliac and I specialize in Autistic, neurodiversity and disability merchandise. Currently, I have 80+ items and many of them were made possible by 3 BC Arts Council grants. I am in over 17 brick and mortar shops in both the USA and Canada.
I have been fighting for years to get adequate funding and programs put in place for disabled small business owners and self employed people like myself.
I have asked for mentorship, a case worker, for grants (NOT LOANS), assistance with paperwork such as income tax, sales tax, importing and exporting among other concerns. I have asked to be able to subsidize help. I have spoken to people high up at workBC, I have spoken to all the independent employment organizations you can think of and I have been sent in an endless loop of emails that most certainly haven’t resulted in anyone being able to help me.
Did you know that the businesses that make up accessible employers’ presidents group cumulatively have earned over 57 billion dollars annually, and yet you believed it was imperative to give them a share of 4.8 million dollars to create “accessible employment” when that is what is legally required of them. This was on a press release from June 1st 2021 called “grant supports inclusive employment”, which was incredibly insensitive and missed the mark. You can’t expect disabled self-employed people to take on debt when taking out a loan when you hand large corporations chunks of money they don’t need.
I reached out to multiple organizations, including Small Business BC about this funding and was told that, due to the terms of their grant outlined by your government, they were not allowed to allocate any of those funds to create resources for disabled small business owners.
I ask you to consider broadening the terms and conditions of these grants so that programs and supports can be put into place, possibly within programs that already exist.
Furthermore, the press release from that date did not include the voice of any disabled people. You can not tout inclusivity and exclude us. Self-Employment is the only accessible employment for me and many others. I have been working hard to get self-employment added to your press release for September’s BC disability employment month.
Moving on, I'd like to talk about PWD.
A year's income at the current 2022 rate for a single person is around $16,300.
The poverty rate for Canada is approximately $26,000 for that same demographic.
People who use BC’s disability assistance services only receive $375 a month for shelter. This does not correlate with the average monthly rent that is well over $2000.
Believing that $1358, the maximum monthly provincial disability rate for a single person is livable income is out of touch and unrealistic.
The monthly CERB, based on a minimum standard of living, was $2000. This is just barely enough money to get by. Disabled people are expected to live on much less.
Things like this show how little consideration is given to disabled people to ensure that our needs are being met.
This results in:
People on PWD disproportionately facing poverty and ongoing debt, homelessness and tenuous shelter, starvation and malnutrition, the inability to pay for much needed medication or medical support and the lack of resources for mental health issues, just to name a few.
The Humans Rights Commissioner stated that disabled people are falling through the cracks of our system and that we aren’t having our economic rights sufficiently protected.
We all know that these things are happening but that nothing is changing.
We all deserve a livable income, having our needs being met without being a strain on the system or our wallets and the right to be empowered when it comes to our choices of inclusive employment.