Income limitations and restrictions have been imposed upon disabled British Columbians if they have partnerships or spouses. Spencer van Vloten created a petition on Change.org to fight against these inhumane clawbacks.
This petition has been around for well over a year, and inflation has only gotten worse. In a time where we all are already very much well aware that people with disabilities face imbalanced poverty when compared to people without disabilities, this brings to light how much added discrimination people with disabilities face.
Should a person with disabilities be fortunate enough to find someone who loves and accepts them in spite of their disabilities, and decides to enter into a committed partnership together cohabitating, the disabled individual will be cut off of their benefits after the first year their household income reaches the mere amount of $18,000.
At that point the nondisabled partner becomes financially responsible for providing for the household (even though people with disabilities often face extra costs for medications, mobility devices, special transportation, et cetera, their lives are more expensive just to exist).
So imagine it, you fall in love with someone who happens to have a disability in BC, even if you only worked a minimum wage job, once that amount earned reaches $18,000 (not each, $18,000 for the whole household) your partner is cut off from assistance and you have to support both yourself and your disabled partner, on only minimum wage.
This amount does not change if the disabled partner has children. That amount is set in stone.
So imagine a minimum wage earner having to support themselves, their disabled partner and their disabled partner’s children, if applicable. Do you think that a working individual will stick around and do that?
The amount of pressure this puts on the working partner increases an imbalance within the relationship, changes the role from partner to caregiver, and increases the risk of family violence. Plus if abuse occurs, how is the person with disabilities able to leave once they have been cut-off from assistance and can’t afford to find a place of their own, and cannot work?
Yes some can work, but not all. And are they less deserving of love?
Who can even survive on $18,000 a year, then to be cut off from any assistance they might’ve had prior to earning that amount. In a time where the spotlight is starting to turn to those who are the most vulnerable, these outrageous discriminatory policies that keep people in legislative poverty need to be put to rest.
Disabled individuals deserve to have equal opportunity for loving committed relationships just like anyone else, but often they face all these added barriers that make it harder for them to obtain meaningful partnerships.
Have they not faced enough hardship already?
Jami Foort is a qathet Regional District resident.