After 3 months of actions at Ministry of Social Development offices demanding a meeting with Minister Moria Stillwell, leaders from BC's ACORN Disability Rights Group sat down with her in January to discuss their rights based campaign demands around Persons with Disabilities (PWD) allowances. It was a proud moment for the group, due to the Minister’s refusal to meet with them before they started 'getting angry' and forcing the issue with action at Ministry offices.
The leadership committee of Tom Page, Desiree Wells, Noel Ouellette and Gloria Yogyog had long practice sessions in the ACORN office roleplaying the meeting, and doing classic ACORN "what ifs" to prepare themselves if the meeting went awry. This preparation made it impossible for the Minister to do anything but talk about our issues, and give a straight yes or no answer to our demands.
While the meeting resulted in no victory around their main demands of increased PWD rates, the leaders were seemingly very successful at getting agreements from her to start the process of having Ministry offices changing procedures for clients applying for benefits. This would make it easier for all people with disabilities to get the benefits that they actually qualify for - as of now complicated applications and a lack of advocates to help people fill out the forms leaves many disabled people without the financial benefit.
Good things take time, but the ACORN Disability Rights Group took it to the streets and is now getting treated seriously in a timely fashion!