New B.C. disability assistance supplement draws controversy

New B.C. disability assistance supplement draws controversy

WATCH: A Nanaimo mother of special needs children is angry at B.C.’s new NDP government over a promise she says they’re failing to deliver on. Delphine Charmley waited expectantly Monday for the province to announce the disability bus pass that cost $45 annually would be reinstated right away, but instead, she says what’s been announced falls short of election campaign promises. Skye Ryan has more. 

As the mother of seven special needs children, Delphine Charmley’s been doing a lot of driving lately. Her two sons in their 20s once enjoyed independence riding the bus, but since last fall, when the former Liberal government increased disability payments and began deducting $52 per month for a disability bus pass, they’ve been opting out to have the extra money they say they need to live on.

“It affected me a lot,” said Delphine’s son Brandon Charmley. “It’s sad in a way.”

They are far from alone.

“I mean there has been over 5,000 that have given up their bus passes because they couldn’t afford the bus pass,” said Delphine. “They needed that for rent increases, for food.”

The Nanaimo mom has led the fight to see the previous $45 per year disability bus pass restored and said she was expecting the NDP to keep its promise to do that right away. Instead Monday, the provincial government announced that effective Jan.1, 2018 a $52 dollar per month transportation supplement will be given to people with disabilities, instead of reinstating the disability bus pass many have been calling for. The government said this will provide more choices and flexibility.

READ MORE: B.C. to offer flexible bus pass supplements for people on disability assistance

“I probably have heard from more people about the bus pass than about any other particular issue,” said B.C. Minister of Social Development Shane Simpson. “You’ll know that we were quite critical of the previous government around these issues and we felt it important to correct and repair this issue as a priority for our government,” continued Simpson.

Charmley said the supplement will be a great help but urges the government to act sooner and waive bus pass fees for B.C.’s disabled in the cold fall months until this new supplement takes effect.

“That should start now,” said Charmley. “Not January, they can’t wait til January.”

The advocate for people with disabilities says her phone has been flooded with calls from disappointed people since the announcement and hopes their need for transportation now gets through to the minister.

“I’m feeling bad for the rest of the community that has been needing this bus pass for so long,” she said.

For now Charmley’s sons will keep relying on her for trips that are too far to walk, until they can afford to get their independence back on Jan. 1.

Skye RyanSkye Ryan

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