Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Labour minister explains reform to protesting Czechs with disabilities

From Czech News Agency:

PRAGUE -- Labour and Social Affairs Minister Jaromir Drabek (TOP 09) has sent an open letter to Czech disabled persons in which he explains his planned social reform ahead of a demonstration that will be organised by the National Disability Council (NRZP) on March 22.

The NRZP criticises Drabek's reform, saying it would have "disastrous consequences" for people with disabilities.

Drabek writes that his draft reform triggered emotional reactions that were sometimes based on untrue myths or incorrect information. Sometimes, however, these reactions were justified, he admits.

The NRZP said Drabek's reform would affect first of all the employment of the disabled, families caring for a severely disabled person and free choice of social services. Moreover, persons applying for any support from the welfare system would be in a humiliating position, the council said.

Drabek declares that he has reached agreement with the NRZP and the Charter of Social Enterprise group on several changes in the reform.

He dismissed the information that certificates for persons with severe disabilities, whose owners have the right for free public transport and special parking places, would be abolished.

Drabek said the present system would only be changed by a new one, with different identity cards.

Similarly, he says, several benefits will not be abolished but only modified.

Drabek writes that the state will continue to pay most of the costs of the special equipment that persons need to compensate for their disabilities. He says a person applying for such devices would pay maximally 10 percent of their price.

He also writes that the system assessing whether a person is entitled to receive benefits would be more simple thanks to the reform.