CAN assists researchers, students, academics, and others with their research, studies, projects, and consultation.
A recent example is our work with students and professors from the UBC Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy, the SFU Department of Gerontology, and the iCORD Research Centre on examining how knowing where and how people with mobility devices use their devices in the community and how they must be an integral part of urban design and accessibility.
Urban areas offer many opportunities for people with disabilities, but limited accessibility may prevent their full engagement in society. It has been recommended that the experience-based perspective of people with disabilities should be an integral part of the discussion on urban accessibility, complementing other stakeholder expertise to facilitate the design of more inclusive environments. The goals of this mixed-method study were to develop knowledge mobilization (KM) strategies to share experience-based findings on accessibility and evaluate their impact for various urban stakeholders. Using a participatory approach, various KM strategies were developed including videos, a photo exhibit and an interactive game. These strategies were evaluated based on various impact indicators such as reach, usefulness, partnerships and practice changes, using quantitative and qualitative methods. The findings suggested that the KM strategies were effective in raising the awareness of various urban stakeholders and providing information and guidance to urban planning practices related to accessibility.
Shifting the Culture at the Ministry of Social Development & Poverty Reduction
Citizens for Accessible Neighbourhoods worked with other organizations from the Poverty Reduction Coalition to write the paper: Shifting the Culture at the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction
The paper is a brief overview of key concerns brought to the Poverty Reduction Coalition from our members. CAN represented the experiences and concerns of our members and brought them forth to be included in the report. We believe the examples we provided are achievable measures which would better reflect the support and assistance the system is supposed to be providing for people with disabilities and on welfare.
CAN’s Executive Director participated in a phone call with Deputy Ministers regarding the paper and the steps they are taking to address the issues laid out in the report. We are optimistic that our current government is taking steps to correct changes made to the system by our previous government. We will maintain contact with the Minister, Shane Simpson, and his Deputy Ministers and continue to advocate on behalf of our members.
Shifting the Culture at the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction, co-written by the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition, Raise the Rates, Creating Accessible Neighbourhoods, the Richmond Poverty Response Committee, Together Against Poverty Society, West Coast LEAF and UFCW 1518, shared their vision for the Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction: “A Ministry that is dedicated to poverty reduction should be designed to meet the needs of people currently living in poverty and help to lift them out of poverty. We envision a culture of care, instead of a culture of suspicion, with better training and supports for staff, and a serious commitment to accessibility for clients; an accessible system should not require the help of an advocate to apply, make a call, and/or address an issue. Such a Ministry would be a respectful and supportive environment, where somebody needing support can walk into an office and meet face to face with a worker who treats them with dignity and respect. Work with us to come up with tangible, time-sensitive changes to the culture and accessibility of the Ministry. Commit to an ethical, dignified assistance system that works to actively lift people out of poverty and end poverty altogether.”
ID: Cover Page of report
Sharing Our Realities.
Sharing Our Reality: Life on Disability Assistance in British Columbia Report
The effects of provincial government policy are demoralizing for both people with disabilities and those who work within the income assistance system, says a new report released today for which people with disabilities and income assistance workers were surveyed. Looking beyond the numbers to focus on real-life stories, Sharing Our Realities: Life on Disability Assistance in British Columbia finds a remarkable consensus between people with disabilities, income assistance workers, and even the findings of the government’s own disability consultation about what ails the system and what is needed to improve the lives of people with disabilities. The report, which surveyed people with disabilities and income assistance workers across the province, includes recommendations to increase income and disability assistance rates, simplify applications for income and disability assistance, and return to a system with individualized caseworkers.
“The message is that we don’t have enough for basics like food and shelter,” said Frank, who receives disability assistance, “and this makes our disabilities worse. We are losing our health. We are losing our homes. We are losing our lives. This is a crisis.”
Throughout 2016, CAN was routinely contacted by people with disabilities who felt they had no voice or power in this province. “People had participated in the 2014 government consultation, but felt that their comments and suggestions were ignored, written into papers, and then filed away,” said Heather McCain, Executive Director of Creating Accessible Neighbourhoods and the co-author of the report. In response, CAN developed a survey for people on disability assistance and ministry workers, and the resulting report, Sharing Our Realities, aims to provide that voice, which is loud and clear.
Income assistance workers agree, but the report reveals that many feel like they did not have avenues in which they could share their thoughts and concerns about their ability to do their job. “Income Assistance workers tell me all the time how powerless they now feel to actually make a difference in people’s lives within the current service delivery model,” says Doug Kinna, a British Columbia Government and Service Employees’ Union elected representative for Ministry social workers. “Things used to be different.”
The stories in the report demonstrate the inadequacy of the increases in disability assistance over the last two years and participants appeal to the government to provide a system based in dignity for people with disabilities. Omar Chu, with the BC Poverty Reduction Coalition and co-author of the report, agrees, adding that “basic welfare, which many people with disabilities have to survive on before they access disability assistance, has now been frozen for a decade at $610 per month. Sharing these stories of hardship caused by lack of government action is part of our commitment to make poverty public. We need to significantly raise income assistance rates as part