By Andrea Podruski, Plan Institute Board Member
On Monday, December 2nd, the Canadian Association for Community Living and People First Canada based in Ottawa, hosted the 10th Annual Federal Policy Forum on Inclusion: Why am I poor? Decreasing poverty & increasing opportunity for people with an intellectual disability. The purpose of the Policy Forum was to examine the programs, tools, and strategies currently underway in Canada, as well as the barriers that are still a reality for many.
The day included three panel discussions focused on: transitioning from sheltered work to employment first; inclusive employment; and, income security tools. What was refreshing was the inclusion of both self-advocates and family members on almost all panel discussions. This approach provides the opportunity to hear first hand about the experiences of people living and breathing the topic. I also had the opportunity to meet a powerful group of women who are all adult siblings of a loved-one with an intellectual disability, and I look forward to hearing more about the sibling experience at future events.
There were many encouraging stories about inclusive employment and the transition from sheltered workshops to employment first, however some audience members felt the focus of the event was too much on employment as the answer to income security. It caused me to question the potential solutions for people with intellectual disabilities who are unable to work, or to work enough to be financially secure? The third panel did offer an opportunity to explore the benefits and limitations of the Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) and Disability Tax Credit (DTC), as well as the potential for a new Basic Income. It was encouraging to learn that there is an investment being made to better understand who is benefitting from the DTC, and who is still not accessing this benefit.
There were many powerful stories and a lot of passion at the event. While there is still a lot of work to do, thankfully there was consensus by all that “Inclusion has a cost, and exclusion has an even greater cost”.
For more information on these topics, click on the links below:
Housing Development: Asset Inventory – My Home, My Community www.myhomemycommunity.ca
Basic Income Canada Network www.basicincomecanada.org
The Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) www.rdsp.com
The Disability Tax Credit www.canada.ca
Ready Willing Able: Building an Inclusive Labour Force readywillingable.ca
Canadian Association for Community Living cacl.ca
People First of Canada www.peoplefirstofcanada.ca
10th Annual Federal Policy Forum on Inclusion cacl.ca/2019/12/11/10th-annual-federal-policy-forum-on-inclusion/