Holman: "...some interests are more equal than others."

On Wednesday, a small group of autistic children were given a lesson in the politics of equality. The children are part of a $5 million early intervention program - a program that, because of funding constraints, only has 70 spaces. But rather than increase those spaces in the interests of equality, the government will be shutting down that program in the interests of equality - using the money to increase the funding for all autistic children under six.

And, just make sure those in the early invention program learned their lesson, the opposition has yet to ask the government a single question in the legislature about that decision - proving that, in politics, some interests are more equal than others.

9 Comments

Great editorial!

I know some like J.S. will scowl at this thought, but I sure think the BCNDP is scared to death of Mary Polak and ending up as target practice for YouTube. So they'll attack on the arts and get some great Flickr graphics by a NDP supporter about the BC budget situation.

Yes, I can be nice and promote others not w/ initials M.P. Let's also face a sad fact - autistic people are not a priority... yet. It'll come in due time - perhaps an Autistic Day along the lines of Wear Pink Anti-Bullying Day.

Josef, I'm not sure why you use this opinion to attack the NDP but they will do every thing they can to help autistic children, unlike the BC Liberals or yourself. If the BC Liberals treated the disadvantaged the way they treated themselves to a pay raise and pension benefits, people would be well off in this province.

astro, are you sure about the NDP willing to "do every thing they can to help autistic children"?

Let's see...

1) They have question period now to raise new information and ask hard hitting questions. They aren't using it. Gee, I wonder why? I dare the NDP to end up as target barges for Mary Polak... and her wingman.

2) NDP had 10 years of government. BCLibs are on year eight and yes have helped themselves too much but inherited only a few hundred children with autism with service. According to Minister Polak, "Right now in British Columbia there are 6,000 children with autism being served through our funding". Big difference.

3) NDP had 10 years to crack down on bullying, which is important to helping autistics like I integrate. They didn't - BCLibs have.

I hope I answered your question. I can understand the resentment, for I believed until very recently the BCLibs were doing supreme job on the economy like good businesspeople and would have asked how much salary should Premier Campbell & his Ministry get. Now, not so much.

Looks like Ms. Polak has at least one fan.She may be the minister of the day, but the ministry is run by an appointee of King Gordo. When he says jump, she says how high, or she will be in the backbench almost immedialty

Agreed, avoter that beyond a certain point of autonomy, when the Premier says do it - you do it or you're gone. He's well known for on certain initiatives going around the minister directly to staff. But I think this one was from ministry bureaucracy to the Minister who signed off w/ her biases.

One thing that I think avoter would agree w/ me on is that yours truly is a hawk on open gov't and wishes the data leading to this decision was public. I'd sure like to see the studies and/or the data and certainly the e-mail chain leading to the announcement/trigger pull on this one. Doesn't mean I don't support it, but government showing their work builds trust, builds civility and builds leadership.

If this government's policy is to descend to the lowest common denominator in the interests of equity, then we are all well and truly screwed. Most children with other special needs currently don't get any funding whatsover to spend on therapy.

And giving everyone equal funding regardless of individual need is not equity - it's wasteful, ineffective and totally lacking in accountability. It's no different from mandating that ALL British Columbians receive the same monthly welfare payments, regardless of whether they're millionaires who lack for nothing or homeless street people whose needs will remain largely unmet despite the "equal" universal payments.

Foolish and shortsighted! Not to mention cruel...

If fact, not all of the money cut from the program is going back to the families, we are unsure where 3.4 million is going actually?!

Also, Polak stated that there was no appreciable difference in the kids coming out of this 'cadillac program', but one program has not been audited in 4 years since implementing changes suggested by the gov't in 2005. So how exactly would she know if it is working? Has she visited schools who receive the children coming out of this program? Has she looked at the intake videos of our kids and met them today to see the enormous gains they make? Does she know the research on ABA therapy and the gains that children make (60% recover rate)? Has she looked at the states (26 of whom are implementing this program) in support of helping the GROWING NUMBER of ASD kids? Does she know what this will cost the system in justice and health costs in the future?

I suspect not, but have challenged her to come up with this info...

Well, just as of now another QP went by w/o a question on autism treatment. Gee, I wonder why...

I will be fair to the BCNDP - they made a splash target/easy mark on Min. Mary McNeil, MLA who never answered why BCHydro had to give away Olympics box tickets to hockey but gave a good defense of the Olympics. Nevertheless, if I were "For Issac" or in similar straits, I'd be hurt by the misappropriation. $$$ for luxury boxes, but not sports or autism treatment.

That said: Just goes to prove the air cover over Min. Polak is nice n thick... and Sean was right! Waiting patiently for the podcast of his show yesterday.

You know we are living in dark days indeed when the government begins dismantling the therapy funding for helpless children. I suppose it is a smart move by the government as these children can’t voice their concern over the negative impact this will have on their future and huge increase in cost it will later have to society.

Is this the type of government we voted for?

Approximately one in a 150 boys is diagnosed with Autism and this continues to rise at an increasing rate.

In a recent 50 million dollar Lotto 6/49 jackpot, the odds were one in 13,983,816. Hundreds of thousands of parents bet on this jackpot. Your odds are considerably better with an Autism diagnosis.

Save your lottery money, you will need it if your child is diagnosed.

The government of British Columbia offers these families $20,000/year to cover therapy up to the age of six. Therapy costs approximately $80,000/year. This therapy is scientifically proven to be effective and is well documented. This means families who have a child who has been diagnosed with Autism have to find $60,000 from somewhere. This is often debt.

Most of these parents divorce. Selling the family house to fund therapy is common. The sale of most items of value to generate funds for therapy is a given. A life of guilt and depression is to be expected. Alienation from friends and family will occur.

Their life as they knew it is now over.

If they are lucky their child won’t bolt and get lost for days. If they’re lucky their child will learn to refrain from self damaging behavior. If they’re lucky, their child will learn not to throw up after eating. If they’re lucky, their child will learn to speak a few words. If they’re lucky their child will not be teased, ridiculed, beaten up and harassed on a daily basis at school. If they’re lucky their child will graduate from high school.

Most won’t be that lucky.

Last week, without any consultation or warning, the Mary Polak (Minister of Family and Children Development) pulled the rug out from under these parents who are already enduring so much by eliminating their ability to control these funds. The government, who have consistently failed to understand the needs of these families has taken it upon itself to eliminate the option to do Direct Funding (direct from the parents to the service providers) and has instead dictated that these parents have to tow the line of mandated Invoice Funding where the government pays the service providers. This will increase overhead costs, delay the payments, reduce the quality of care and will make paying these service providers extremely difficult therefore reducing the amount of usable funds and discouraging assistance.

The frustration in the Autism community lies in the fact that these parents, who are on the brink of financial collapse, already spent precious funds to fight the government in the courts a few years ago to protect their children and won the Auton lawsuit (Auton vs BC Gov). The government at that time did finally put Direct Individualized Funding into place. This allowed parents to fund their child’s ABA programs and since that time parents have built a strong, quality base of ABA service providers that is making a real difference to these children. The ABA program takes a child who would otherwise be lifelong financial burden on the society and in many cases makes him/her self sufficient.

In these financial times are we prepared to sacrifice the children? Do we want to go down this low moral road? Are we prepared to make the small amount of funds these parents receive that much less and that much more difficult to put into action? Why is the government spending more tax money just to make it difficult for these parents?

For all that is good and decent, please spare the children.

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