Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Believe nothing BC Liberals say - they don't either, record shows

Broken Promises Pile Up

Add kids with autism to folks double-crossed by Campbell government

Bill Tieleman's 24 hours/The Tyee column

September 29, 2009

By Bill Tieleman

A BC Liberal government will increase emphasis on early childhood intervention programs for families with special needs children."

- BC Liberal Party election platform, 2001

Whether it's cutting autism treatment programs, slashing public libraries, chopping school athletic activities or shutting down arts funding, the B.C. Liberal government has made one thing clear: believe nothing it says.

Last week, Ministry of Children and Families Minister Mary Polak announced that a $5 million early and intensive intervention program for children with autism will be killed in January.

Polak claimed the move came because "we were not seeing any appreciable improvements in the outcomes for those kids" and that the money would be redistributed to increase funding for other autism programs.

But parents of about 70 children in the program furiously disagree with her assessment, saying it's dead wrong.

Victoria mother Nicole Strong calls the BC Liberal move "devastating" for her three-year-old son Isaac.

"For them to say that there would be no appreciable difference when you actually get 13 hours more of therapy [a week] is ridiculous," Strong says.

And then Autism Society of B.C. president Michael Lewis pointed out the additional $2,000 per year redirected from early intervention to other programs barely covers the extra cost that imposing the Harmonized Sales

Tax will have on families using autism services!

This after B.C. Liberals also said in 2005 they would: "Build the best system of support in Canada for persons with disabilities, special needs, children at risk and seniors."

Crushed and discarded

It's the same story everywhere -- Premier Gordon Campbell and his government breaking their word faster than a bull in a china shop turns tea cups into trash.

Here's another
classic Campbell quote from November 4, 2006: "And we also plan to invest in playgrounds and places that celebrate the arts and physical activities."

But now Campbell has cut arts funding almost 90 per cent by 2011, from $19.5 million to just $2.25 million.

Says William Gibson, the acclaimed B.C. science fiction author of Neuromancer: "This is governance guaranteed to rot the fabric of our province's future."

And Campbell's government just eliminated the entire $130,000 B.C. School Sports funding that allows the group to organize athletic programs at every high school in the province.

But don't worry. Education Minister Margaret MacDiarmid says young athletes can cope by: "Doing more walking or dancing or playing in parks."

Said B.C. School Sports executive director Sue Keenan: "We never in our wildest dreams ever imagined this province would cut us totally."

Perhaps that's because while Campbell may believe the words he says at the time, his actions show it's hard to imagine he believes in anything.

Mad about the HST?

My NO BC HST protest group on is now at 125,000 people -- join the crowd!


Dawn Steele said...

I agree that the autism program cuts are just about the dumbest thing this government has ever done, considering the long-term savings/costs. They should instead be expanding them to offer similar therapy to thousands of other kids with intellectual and developmental diabilities who can make huge strides from investing in early intervention.

If Premier Campbell can afford to go ahead and give his friends $20 million to help them build a "bricks & mortar" autism centre in Vancouver that won't provide an hour of therapy for a single kid and that will be out of reach to most families, we can afford to continue spending a couple million a year to give these kids life-altering therapy!

And it needn't cost $70,000 for each kid if you're expanding it to serve a broader group. Years ago, my son benefitted hugely from much less costly, but similarly targetted early intervention that is no longer available. He's now in Grade 10, headed for full graduation, post secondary, a career, independence - all the things that were written off when he was first diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

And in terms of "how low can they go", Bill - I think the latest cuts to the Special Olympics probably take the cake - especially after we've just spent $6 billion on the big 2010 Olympic party for the world's elite!

Thank God poor Eunice Kennedy Shriver did not live to see this shameful deed!

Brett's Mom said...

As a parent of a child in the EIBI program that the government is axing I am outraged by the prospect of the government constructing a $20 million autism services building in Vancouver. What services will it provide? Where will the funding for the operating costs come from? If the purpose of getting rid of the EIBI program was to make the autism funding/resources more accessible to all of the families in BC this will not attain that goal. If you have ever travelled with an autistic child you will know that the shorter the trip the better.

Does anyone know exactly how many centres in BC are providing EIBI treatment? Myself and others can only come up with 5 centres but Minister Polak keeps referring to 7 centres. The ones I know of are: Kelowna, Kamloops, Penticton, Delta/Langley & Victoria (Queen Alexandra centre).

Thank you for reading my rant.

Lee said...

Cambell's government and Cambell himself are completely unaware of the realities that average income families have. How can he be so blithely and pompously ignorant of fiscal facts for average people? He hautily refuses to see the truth as it might muddle his otherwise spotless mind as he looks down his nose at the electorate. Pull out all stops for the Olympics and cut every social program this province - how dare he call himself a Liberal - he's on par with the rightest of American Conservatives in his thinking - if he had his way you wouldn't have MSP either.

Dave-O said...

My friend son is a joy and so loving, he makes my day when he runs to me saying "Up to sky" which I do all 70lbs of him.

His treatment program has made him a even more loving human and that to me is worth $2.6 billion.