B.C. Liberals need to own up to their broken promise to people with disabilities

VICTORIA – The B.C. Liberal government has quietly admitted they are breaking their promise to bring back the Community Volunteer Supplement program, showing once again their priorities are in the wrong place, say the New Democrats.

“In March the minister said that the program was being restructured and would be relaunched,” said New Democrat social development critic Carole James. “At the time the minister said that details about changes to the program would be provided within a couple of months. But six months after the Liberals promised more details, community organizations and people with disabilities find out that the government has no plans to bring it back and no details about what will be replacing it.”

This week the Together Against Poverty Society called on the government to fulfill its commitment to the Community Volunteer Supplement program, which provides people with disabilities who volunteer in their communities with a monthly stipend of $100 to help with costs associated with volunteering such as hygiene, travel and food.

“This is a program that clearly benefits thousands of British Columbians who, due to disability, are unable to work but still have the desire to contribute to their communities. It’s shown itself to be hugely successful with nearly 7,000 people participating annually,” said James.

Applications to the program have been frozen since October 2011. Despite claims by the ministry that the program was being redeveloped, a statement released yesterday by Social Development Minister Moira Stilwell suggests it is being scrapped altogether.

“If this program has been quietly cancelled, the Liberals need to be up front about that fact that they think it is more important to waste $15 million on partisan pre-election ads than to make investments in programs that make a difference in people’s lives.

“It's not enough to make an empty promise about doing something, maybe, someday, after doing nothing for a year and a half and hoping people would forget about their promise to bring back this program,” said James.

B.C.'s New Democrats are committed to investing where it counts and believe the B.C. Liberal government have shown they’re not up to the challenge. It’s time to improve life for British Columbians through positive change, one practical step at a time.