Two centres are better than one?

Earlier, we exclusively reported on hoteliers Sergio and Wendy Cocchi's efforts to develop the government's promised $20 million autism education and research centre. But the Campbell administration isn't alone in its plans to establish such an institution. The Canadian Back Institute Ltd. Partnership, a Toronto-based rehabilitation services company known as CBI Health, will be setting up its own 20,000 square foot autism centre for excellence that will open its doors in January 2009.

In an interview, the centre's clinical services director Dan Galazka explained, "We are looking at designing an integrated, multi-disciplinary assessment and treatment centre where the professionals that families would need to use would be housed in one building as opposed to trying to find them throughout the community."

Morever, he added, the centre is "looking to be able to not only work with the kids with autism but to support the families. We have a unique staff position called care coordinator. A care coordinator will be assigned to each family. And that will be the one point of contact - they will do the intake and interview, they will do the booking of appointments and assessments, they will be the one point of contact. So, if a family has a concern, an issue or a need, they can call this one person up and they will take care of who they need to speak to or call a meeting. So there's a real push to support the families so they don't have to be the case managers."

Mr. Galazka said the government's intiative is different from theirs because "to the best of my knowledge, they're looking at how to attract the private contractors into that facility. They're building the facility. It's one of those build it and they will come things. Whereas we are building it, staffing it and doing it. And, no, we don't have the same budget as the government" - although he couldn't yet release a "hard number."

But, that being said, when asked whether CBI Health's centre would be in competition or complementing with the province's, Mr. Galazka said, "Definitely complimenting," "We're looking at how we can connect with them and how they can enhance what we're doing and how we can enhance them."

CBI Health is presently recruiting staff and 20 days away from securing space for the centre. The following is a complete copy of the relevant portion of its recruitment brochure.


CBI Health


Interested in being part of a collaborative team working to improve the quality of life for children with Autism and their families?

CBI Health is a values-based, results-oriented company providing more access and better health outcomes to patients and communities across Canada.

We offer:

* Competitive, flexible and creative compensation packages
* Commitment to professional development, internal/external education allowances
* Opportunity to learn and grow in an educational, enjoyable and supportive environment

Our Centre of Excellence will provide holistic, family-centred care in an integrated, multi-disciplinary model.


Well I think the difference here is that one centre of excellence (the Premier's model) would cost BC taxpayers $20 million, plus another $14 million that has to be found from private fundraising before it ever gets off the ground; while the other one (CBI's) will just get on with providing basically all the same benefits to kids and families starting in January at no extra costs to the public purse whatsoever.

If the Premier has so much extra cash lying around that he can afford to just throw away $20 million to keep his friends happy, we can suggest a lot better ways for him to spend it!

Hmmm. So the premier is planning to fork over $20 million of our precious public funds to help pay for what appears thus far to be nothing more than a privately operated real estate development that provides no assurance of any actual service delivery. This when we have to come up with creative ways to utilize excess space in schools with declining enrollment?

And the CBI folks want to start their own centre (presumable without public funding), but also want to provide a comprehensive range of actual services? The Premier needs to do the right thing and keep the $20 million and redirect it somewhere it's desperately needed, like to extending support to developmentally disabled adults who have the "misfortune" of having IQs over 70 or putting it into the school system so students with special needs can get the support they need to successfully access education.

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