The long-feared announcement by the MCFD Minister Mitzi Dean has been made. Individualized autism funding will become a thing of the past by 2025.
Is this a good thing?
It could be if the BC government provides a massive increase in funding. However, I’m too old and cynical (or perhaps realistic) to believe that the government is going to get it right. Honestly, the writing has been on the wall for a long time. When was the last time your autism funding received an inflation increase?
Funding for our kids will now be divided amongst all disabilities. For example, a child with Down’s syndrome or Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) may very well see an increase in funding and that is a good thing. A child with autism will more than likely see a decrease in funding. Given that autism funding was intended for evidence-based treatment, the inevitable result will be poor outcomes which are going to cost society in the end.
One thing is abundantly clear and that is that individualized funding is going away. The government will choose the services and level of support on behalf of your child. For some marginalized families who have difficulty obtaining services this is a huge plus. For families who know how to navigate the system and obtain the services their child needs, this is going to be a huge blow.
The new system sounds great in theory, but if the experience in Ontario is anything to go by, there is trouble on the horizon. Ontario moved to a “needs based” approach a few years ago and it was nothing short of disaster. The result was a massive increase in waitlists and less choice for families. How ironic that BC is following the lead of the Ford government.
Some points that greatly concern me are:
- The complete lack of consultation with autism groups
- Less choice for families
- Fewer hours of therapy available
- Who will decide the needs of the child? What will be the qualifications of Case Managers?
- Union wages and accompanying benefits for Interventionists leaving less funds available
- The possibility that home based therapy may be a thing of the past
- Will the “needs based” approach allow for Behaviour Consultants to work with the school districts?
- The possibility of many highly skilled Behaviour Consultants leaving the province if they are not well accommodated in the new system
During the news conference announcing the new system, Minister Mitzi Dean evaded questions relating to funding. This leads me to believe that there will be no real increase although they will tinker around the edges to give the appearance of increases.
For a more in depth look at what is wrong with the plan, The Autism Support Network has put together an excellent briefing.
Previous generations of families fought tooth and nail to get autism funding. You have been warned of the dangers. What are you going to do to fight this? Now is the time to show the government what the new generation of families are capable of.