Session of National Council for Integration of Persons with Disabilities
On February 9, 2016, in the building of the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy, the first 2016 meeting of the National Council for the Integration of Persons with Disabilities was held. National Alliance for Social Responsibility (NASO) took part in the event as a regular member of the Council. The Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Policy Lazar Lazarov chaired the meeting. Galab Donev, Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Policy, presented the recommendation of the Ministry for introducing an expertise on employability for persons with disabilities at a working age. The Deputy Minister of Health, Dr. Vanyo Sharkov, was present at the meeting as well.
Within the meeting held, the national organizations representing people with disabilities presented a common declaration about their concern regarding the lack of detailed information of the recommendation paper prepared by the Ministry and insisted on a more in-depth communication between the government and the non-governmental sector as well as with persons with disabilities themselves, and on introducing a more comprehensive approach for identifying the most appropriate solutions.
NASO accepted and approved the need of changes related to the system of the territorial expert medical commissions. For a few years, NASO has been insisting on discussing the topic and introducing legislative changes in view of the existing problems in the field. Although NASO expresses its support to the decision of introducing changes in the system, it argues that it is not acceptable to suggest such due to budgetary changes in the state social insurance system. Having in mind the perspective of budgetary changes only would negatively influence the future functioning of the territorial expert medical commissions. In order to find the most appropriate, objective and helpful solutions, a comprehensive approach is required reflecting on the importance of the commissions in all aspects of life of persons with disabilities. In NASO’s point of view, the changes should be further discussed in working groups including experts from all sectors, whereby all specifics of life of people with disabilities should be taken into account, i.e. matters related to family and children, education, employment, personal development, social support, social services, etc.
The model of work of the commissions should take into consideration the current European practices as well as the specifics of the Bulgarian conditions, and most of all, the low status of life of people in Bulgaria in general. The inclusion of organizations of and for persons with disabilities in the working groups on the changes in the medical commissions should be made obligatory. Additionally, whatever legal changes are made, they should be in accordance with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Moreover, NASO recommends considering a possibility NOT requiring checks of persons with disabilities by various commissions examining different aspects of their lives but rather a simplification of the entire procedure.
The decisions which are to be made with regard to supporting persons with disabilities, including the topic on pension insurance, should definitely take into account the various groups of people with disabilities – children, youth, employed and unemployed people, pensioners, etc. Disability is to be considered in different ways with regard to all these groups, and therefore, all they need different kinds of support. The financial support to persons with disabilities should be regarded as a tool enabling them to overcome various barriers and use in the best way possible their capacity for getting a professional qualification, finding employment and achieving personal self-realization. NASO expresses its certainty that all bodies, institutions and organizations will combine their efforts in establishing a strong partnership and finding the most appropriate solutions.
“The change of every single normative act will be discussed with you and within the various councils for social dialogue”, reassured Mr. Donev the members of the Council. “The mission of our recommendations is not to take away rights, but to give an opportunity to persons with disabilities to be more integrated”, stated the Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Policy, Mr. Donev. He also pointed out that the Ministry was open for a dialogue with NGOs of and for people with disabilities and was expecting all interested parties to take part in the discussion on the matter.
The Deputy Minister, Lazar Lazarov, on his behalf stressed that before taking a final decision the Ministry was to take into account all points of view of all stakeholders involved. Furthermore, Mr. Sharkov claimed that the changes in the medical expertise aimed at simplifying the procedure and the introduction of the World Health Organization classification was to lead to more objectivity with regard to the criteria. He also stated that the new rules concerning the medical expertise were not to refer to people with already certified disability.