Advocacy News

The root of all evil…

Yes, it’s money. Or, as is often the case, the lack thereof…

I love the diverse feedback we get at MOMS. For example one mom this week pointed that what’s happened to CLBC is part of a far broader pattern — a “Neo-Liberal” agenda that’s driven policy excesses around the world and created widespread suffering, global instability and economic and social havoc. Overly simplistic assumptions have driven this agenda: that people always thrive when you stop trying to help them, that big government is the problem, and that austerity and deregulation will cure all evils (…like not having enough money).

Voters have been happy to endorse politicians who assure us that excessive taxation is the problem, and that a steady diet of tax cuts will restore health and vigour. It’s an alluring message, and as with all false premises, a small grain of truth and a whole lot of wishful thinking gives it a compelling ring. But how true is it?

Premier Christy Clark warned that throwing more money at CLBC was not the answer, even as she claimed to be throwing another $40 million at the troubled authority.  A slew of internal reports reiterated over and over that CLBC needed to learn to better manage its money because we can’t afford more and we all have to live within our means.

Well, we’d agree that CLBC has done many bad things. But living within its means is one task which even the staunchest critic would have to admit that CLBC has excelled at – notwithstanding high-profile failures like excessive bonuses and moonlighting employees (both serious errors in judgment, to be sure, but not the kind that put any real dent in a $700-million budget). And we can demonstrate the community living sector’s fiscal virtue pretty compellingly, thanks to some nifty charts developed by accountants at the Developmental Disabilities Association.

Reporters at the Victoria Times Colonist revealed months ago that CLBC has reduced spending per person significantly since its inception. But with caseloads rising yearly, is the community living budget really unsustainable, as Premier Christy Clark, her predecessor Gordon Campbell and their political colleagues keep insisting?

In fact, in relation to what we earn as British Columbians, we’re spending a smaller fraction of our income on community living services today than we did a decade ago, as the first chart shows (click on images to enlarge them).

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