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BC failed to track how many affected by IQ rule

The British Columbia government doesn't know how many people have been affected by a rule that denies services to developmentally disabled adults with an IQ over 70, housing and social development minister Rich Coleman said today.

“We don't track those numbers,” Coleman said during budget estimates debate for his ministry, noting the IQ policy will change next year when it is approved by cabinet. “We didn't track them before this went to court.”

In 2007 a B.C. Court of Appeal ruling found the government did not have a legal basis to deny Community Living B.C. services such as housing based on IQ. In July, 2008, the province passed an order allowing the ministry to continue the practice while it worked on a new definition. Coleman said that definition will be more flexible once it's in place in February, 2010.

“I find it pretty remarkable the government wouldn't have some sense of the number since July 2008,” said New Democratic Party housing and social development critic and Vancouver-Hastings MLA Shane Simpson.

Simpson said he looks forward to seeing the new definition. “We'll see in February I suppose whether the government got this right or if they screwed this up too.”

That statement drew a warning from the chair about unparliamentary language and a heated response from Coleman. All the government did was make a policy that had been in place for at least two decades into law, he said. “If the member thinks somebody messed this up, look in the rearview mirror.”

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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