Minister Rich Coleman breaks Key CLBC Promises

  • Coleman asks CLBC to serve more adults with less money, fuelling harsh cuts as CLBC’s “service redesign” impacts all aspects of community living.
  • Health, safety and service quality ignored as community agencies ordered to reduce growing waitlists with slashed budgets.
  • Adults with developmental disabilities are being forced out of their homes and farmed out to “home share” contractors recruited off Craigslist
  • Promises to respect choice, involve families abandoned.
  • Agencies, families, staff, clients say they fear retribution if they complain publicly.
  • No independent oversight, no public reporting, significantly lower standards, instability and higher risk all characterize CLBC’s cheaper care models

For more information on the group home closures, forced relocations and other community living cuts, visit our: Speaking Up: 2010 Community Living Cuts page

Premier Campbell’s forgotten promise to BC’s kids:

Goal #3 in the BC government’s 2006 – 2009 Strategic Plan: 5 Great Goals for the Golden Decade, is to ‘Build the best system of support in Canada for persons with disabilities, those with special needs, children at risk, and seniors.’

Three years later, the BC government seems to have forgotten all about about Great Goal #3. We’ve seen no improvements in supports for children and youth with special needs. Existing systems are being dismantled and services cut, with no progress in resolving long-standing service gaps despite a decade of endless restructuring.

Minister Mary Polak cuts vital children’s services

This is a summary of new service cuts to services for children with special needs documented in the fall of 2009, along with major pre-existing gaps:

  • Intensive intervention programs for autism axed, despite overwhelming need & evidence these programs work well & expert advice that direct funding is not an effective alternative for many.
  • Parents who effectively manage autism funding forced to switch to Ministry-administered payments. This will create new problems, including delays and higher costs
  • Provincial offices that provide direct services including oversight, coordination, training and standards for community Infant Development Programs and Aboriginal IDPs to be axed.
  • Axing of the provincial Supported Child Care office, which was recently created to resolve problems from the lack of oversight, coordination, training & consistency in local SCC programs.
  • Healthy Choices in Pregnancy program, which focussed on reducing FASD – axed
  • 2009-10 budget for children in care – reduced
  • Youth mental health programs cut, along with programs for youth fighting addiction
  • Capital grants and funded spaces for childcare programs – reduced
  • $32 million in cuts to Ministry staff who manage & deliver programs and supports.
  • Front-line agencies that deliver programs ordered to make further cuts totalling $3.6 million.
  • Roots of Empathy program cut

There has been NO risk assessment or consultation with families & community groups about the impacts of these cuts!

More cuts for 2010

UPDATE – Nov 17, 2009:  Leaked documents revealed today that Ministry staff are planning further cuts to community-based intervention and early intervention delivered via contracted agencies for the coming fiscal year in order to meet Ministry budget reduction targets. The plans must be finalized by Dec. 18, but Minister Polak has declined to reveal further details or even admit the existence of the budget reduction targets cited in the leaked Ministry documents.

Savings from these cuts are NOT being used to expand services to children currently waitlisted or denied access to services & family supports (e.g. children with Down Syndrome who are excluded from early intervention funding).

  • Young adults are still being denied services on the basis of IQ, contrary to promised policy change.
  • Thousands of children still denied urgently-needed services or waitlisted. Govt has failed to document waitlists and service gaps or to demonstrate any progress in resolving these despite years of promises.
  • MCFD is again wasting scarce resources on yet another restructuring process – with no effort to consult the families who are the primary partners in delivering most children’s supports.

Education Minister Margaret MacDiarmid forces BC public schools to cut special ed again!

Update – Spring 2010: People with disabilities in BC are facing fresh rounds of government cuts to critical intervention and support services.

In the K-12 public school system, many districts are cutting core special education services to balance their budgets in the face of provincial underfunding.  Read more here

Tasked with absorbing a $22 million budget cut in the face of growing demands and funding pressures, Community Living BC is forcing operators to close group homes and relocate residents to informal “home sharing” arrangements against their wishes and despit the protests of family members. Read more here

We can afford to do better

The BC government has argued 1) that nothing is being cut, 2) that these “changes” are designed to improve services, 3) that they are necessary because of tough economic times and/or 4) that they are designed to ensure future sustainability. Yet:

  • Premier Campbell failed to strengthen front-line services and supports for children and youth with special needs and their families despite record budget surpluses in recent years.
  • His government continues to waste millions on endless restructuring of children’s services
  • The Premier has committed $14 billion to new capital spending in his 2010 budget at the same time that vital children’s programs are being cut.
  • Premier Campbell remains committed to spending $20 million on bricks and mortar to help construct a new autism building in Vancouver, after BC families overwhelming stressed in a MOMS survey last year that maintaining and enhancing services was by far the top priority.

Speak up against cuts!

These cuts are simply about misplaced priorities and a failure to value the importance of investing in BC’s children. Please add your voice to the families, care providers and citizens speaking up against these cuts by:

  • Signing our online petitions on cuts to children’s services and group home cuts
  • Writing your MLA, Ministers Mary Polak ( ), Rich Coleman ( ) Margaret MacDiarmid ( ) and Premier Gordon Campbell ( )
  • Writing a letter to the editor of your local paper
  • Inviting friends, relatives and colleagues to do the same