VICTORIA (December 2, 2021) – While the NDP has adjourned the Legislature until February, the frustration of parents of children with autism who have been negatively impacted by NDP policy changes, is growing as the government’s information sessions provide zero consultation or comfort about the future of their children.
“We’re hearing from parents in every corner of the province, terrified about their children’s futures, and frustrated with the NDP government’s lack of consultation on these sweeping changes and plans to eliminate individualized funding for children with autism,” said Interim Leader of the Official Opposition Shirley Bond. “This callous decision by the NDP, as well as their lack of commitment to listening or consulting with parents and service providers, is deeply concerning. This government is taking away the ability for parents to decide on what’s right when it comes to the care of their children. It’s unacceptable.”
More than 21,000 people have signed an online petition calling for the government to develop a fair and transparent plan, and to keep the individualized autism funding program in place. Despite the Legislature adjourning, The BC Liberals are keeping up the pressure and reinforcing their calls for the NDP government to reverse its decision to end direct funding for children with autism and commit to full consultation with parents and service providers in the autism community.
“Families are scared for their future and angry with this NDP government which is ignoring the voices of people with direct experience in autism care,” added MLA Karin Kirkpatrick, BC Liberal Critic for Children, Family Development and Childcare. “The NDP needs to show some respect to B.C. families and carry out proper consultation. Phasing out individualized funding will only create another waitlist, making families compete against one another for resources and services in a system that many are already struggling to navigate. It’s just plain wrong.”
MLAs Bond and Kirkpatrick penned a letter to Premier Horgan on behalf of concerned parents back on November 12, which he has yet to respond to.
Autism Service Provider, Melea Pueschner, Vancouver:
“Myself and numerous colleagues attended an ‘information session’ for service providers on Nov 29th in hopes of learning more about this new system and to raise concerns directly to MCFD/CYSN. Many of us service providers were extremely disappointed with how one sided this meeting was. Zoom capabilities were limited so you could not unmute yourself to ask a question, you could type a question in the chat but it may not be answered during the question period, and you could not see other people’s questions in the chat. I found that the individuals hosting the information session were scripted and selective of what questions and topics they spoke to. I really didn’t learn anything new, it just left me with more questions and again feeling frustrated. I certainly did not feel heard. I also heard that the ‘information sessions’ for families went the same way, repetitive, scripted and avoiding alternative perspectives and concerns. I think it’s important that MCFD/CYSN listen to the concerns of service providers and families and be receptive to criticism so a better system can be constructed rather than implementing a system that is a big step backwards. These ‘information sessions’ were not informative at all. These sessions clearly proved that Minister Dean is not listening and is continuing to ignore any opposition or criticism that is presented.”