My blog has been silent these past two weeks because I've been engaged in confidential negotiations with the federal government associated with their recent budget. I'm now in a position to make an informal announcement. Full details will be released by the PM at a press conference this week.
The federal government has made PLAN an offer we can't refuse - to take over the running of the Federal Office of Disability Issues. The Board of PLAN has agreed to the takeover - with two conditions:
- the majority ofl employees must be based in BC. We will maintain a skeleton office in Ottawa but since BC has been the major source of disability innovation in the past three decades (think Rick Hansen; Sam Sullivan, Jack Collins; Ted Kuntz; Joan Laurence; Barb Goode, Stephanie Cadieux) it makes sense to be headquartered where innovation thrives.
- the emphasis will shift from advocacy and rights to families and networks
Seems that Cabinet believes that the planned cuts to hrsdc will reduce their capacity to maintain the status quo, let alone make the changes that need to be made. They would prefer to outsource the job to families who always get the job done (think RDSP) and who have been the driving force for change since March 1956.
Individuals with disabilities will still have a role - a big role - but not the only role. Families will now resume the preferred status they've lost after five decades of being ignored.
"Essentially this is a back to basics - return to families agenda," says Federal Minister Marg Delahunty.
"Families know what's in the best interests of their loved ones," says newly elected PLAN President Bernie MacDonald.
The focus will now shift to family inclusion best done by establishing a planning innovation laboratory.
As of today the Office of Disability Issues will become the Family Of Origin Lab.
Its main purposes will be:
- to reunite adults with disabilities and their families, preferably in the same house
- to create simulated family of origin networks for people with disabilities who have no families.
One of our first priorities will be to negotiate new disability agreements with each province. Since few people with disabilities live up North we will leave the Northern Territories alone and redirect all funding to the Martime provinces.
I've been asked to take on the hybrid role of Minister and Deputy Minister. In order to maintain impartiality I regret to inform all colleagues that I will no longer be available for meetings. Please don't e-mail me either. I won't have time to respond. Best to contact me through 10 assistants (one for each province) I have hired to screen my mail and schedule my appearances.
My new e-mail format as of April: email@example.com
Be sure to insert the right provincial abbreviation.