Changing outcomes

Last week, Children and Family Development Minister Mary Polak said the government was "not seeing any appreciable improvement in the outcomes" for autistic children in its early intensive behavioural intervention program - at least when compared with other treatment options. That statement was a reference to a four-year-old report by University of British Columbia special education professor Pat Mirenda. But, in a scrum today, Minister Polak said those outcomes weren't among the reasons why the program is being shutdown. See for yourself if there's been a change in messaging. Minister Polak also stated the government didn't consult Prof. Mirenda prior to making that decision.

26 Comments

So if I understand what the minister is saying, we already have a two-tiered system (those who can afford to "dip into their pockets" will get what they need, and those who can't, won't) for most families with children affected by autism, so she's making sure it will be a two-tiered system for everyone, just to make it, um, fair?

And about that $2,000 increase to families receiving the $20,000 annual funding, won't most of the increase be eaten up by the HST and inflation?

Sean, as many people now know, I'm the #1 Polakite in the comments. I'm also an Aspie in my 20s. I'm also a fan of you Sean and will pay up to subscribe to ya next paycheck.

Disclaimers given - Sean, you're the only one who's picking up this issue. Keep on keeping on. Please, especially with finding these studies that the proponents of cutting edge treatment wish to push w/o a real plan to fund them.

Also: 70 children versus 100s, not a hard call. Many of the centres will stay on w/ less throughput. Not exactly a win-win, but close. A lot of the panic is being fueled by the regular NDP promoters here and let's stop it folks w/ the "Cadillac" slam... it's extremely hurtful to dialogue.

Patti;
You miss the points, respectfully. The government cannot be giving some more for an elite service that may - or may not - work out, while others get the lower tier. The HST won't hit autism treatment and inflation won't be that bad.

What a pathetic display that was. Mary is trotting out the most spurious arguments to justify this. The parents and protesters have eviscerated them one by one by one, and the ground is shifting all around her. Even the PABer over her shoulder has to concentrate extra hard just to appear normal.

We build cities because they offer better services. That's why governments make their capitols there. That's why young families move to them. That's why the housing is so expensive. That's why we pay our high taxes. Abandoning this centre, and the families that rely on it, to put a measly 2000 in the pockets of families elsewhere is a ludicrous model. The chaos that would flow from that logic, were it applied to federal funding, transit, education, funding for cities, defence, etc... would destroy the country. The population would have to be distributed on a one person per one kilometre basis, each person enjoying impoverished but equitable service levels. There'd be no garbage pick up, no sidewalks, no libraries...

BTW the Josef K, your capacity to defend the indefensible appears to know no limits.

Old Brooktrout, you probably are a partisan NDP'er just trying to attack me because you have NO PLAN to restore the cut. Let me say this very, very clearly: I have seen no plan to fund restoring the cut for 70 children versus "hundreds of parents" who were already paying for the program out-of-pocket. I would encourage you to watch the YouTube again.

I also remind you that the official critic for the NDP was a Ministerial Assistant to Social Services ministry under the 1990s NDP gov't that left behind only a few hundred children with autism any aid. Minister Polak claims "Right now in British Columbia there are 6,000 children with autism being served through our funding". So I'd prefer not to hear more grousing, insults, slander, etcetera but about fairness for all parents w/ autistic kids + a plan to restore the funding. Yes, a plan. A real plan that can be realistically financed. Please!

raise an average of 1.25 cent per person in extra taxes. That would cover the 5mil.

Joesph, this is a CHOICE. Government makes choices. Do you think this is a good one? We target funding all the time. As Brooktrout said, imagine if you applied this logic to transit. Each citizen should have equal transit funding regardless of where they lived. Or hospital funding? Is it equitable to have full service hospitals in major centres and glorified walk in clinics in smaller settings? Children and Women's Hospital is in Vancouver, is that equitable for the rest of us who do not have as easy of access to those services?

Do we fund cancer patients equitably regardless of what they need to treat their cancer? sorry, your cancer is more serious, but we can only offer so much funding because we have to be fair to the other cancer patients?

Who would you expect to see come up with a plan to restore funding? My first choice would be Mary, but she is choosing not to and instead making lamer and lamer excuses for why not

The honest answer to all this is that her budget was cut so she had to cut programs and she chose this one. She can bluster on all she wants but that is the bottom line. Given how much thought and planning went into many of the cuts we have seen I bet when the FOI request that Sean has I am sure already filed comes back we will find out that there was almost no planning or reasoning behind this, just a budget line with a red mark through it.

Andy, I think you have a plan. It's a shame it came down to you to make one w/ any grasp in reality. Let's hope the advocates pick it up.

I do support the choice, grudingly. It is my understanding this early intervention is done via government waitlists while others buy their way around it w/o subsidy and not exactly w/ doctor's recommendations - but I could be done.

I agree we try not to fund all cancer patients equally but to cure the cancer. I also fully expect the advocates to come up with a plan in these tough times. That's what happened to save Langley Seniors Outreach - local governments & the two MLAs held a town hall + cobbled together a plan to keep assistance to seniors from falling through the cracks. Just whining wastes time. I also dismissed Brooktrout after the zinger.

Also it'd be news to me if Minister Polak's budget was cut...

It IS a choice!!! Households and businesses all over the world are able to move money from one account to another to cover the costs of this and that. Some Parents of Autistic Children are able to move money from their savings to their chequing accounts to cover costs. I would think that most are not in that position, though don't know for a fact. I am not one that can afford that option.

So, if households and businesses can do it, and we're not the top level executives and managers employed by this government, then why can't they move money from one budget to another? Of course they can, they just choose not to! For all the experience and knowledge they apparently bring to their positions, they should be able to exercise a little creativity to make this happen. If it was something of direct interest to them, it would be done without a second thought.

These children are not just kids with a little trouble. These are kids with very serious health issues, and should be treated as such. Should we shut down BC Children's Hospital and give all the families with sick kids a few thousand dollars each to put toward the cost of treatment because not everyone can get to Vancouver? Imagine the uproar!!!

Government needs to get their priorities in line and quickly before it's too late for these kids.

Fighting for my son | September 22, 2009 7:55 PM

I admire your passion. Unlike the Public Affairs Bureau/"PAB" which is paid to just defend decisions instead of find solutions, I would like you to tell me please where in these budget estimates/line-items you would shift to pay for your premium program, please. I know it's 228 pages in PDF and a tad bit intimidating at first even to this political geek, but grousing about this cut when actually Minister Polak said starting at 4:04 of the YouTube 6 out of the 7 will keep the program at reduced hours so really no cataclycsm.

Oh and one other thing... something the damn PAB won't mention... and Minister Polak, MLA is too humble to say anything about... but going through that PDF I mentioned the Minister's Office is being cut from $915,000 to $564,000! That's $351,000 of suck-ups, secretaries and staffers cleaned out by Min. Polak so kids get help!! Way to go, Rockette!!!

Josef, to my understanding the reason that some of the programs will continue to run is that they are subsidized by both private and public money. So, with their private funding, and the $22,000 per family, they are able to continue running the program at reduced hours. It has been stated to the nth degree this is not enough hours for these kids!!! Yes, it is good that they can still run, but it's like saying you can only give a child with cancer half of their chemo treatment. They'll just have to make do and hope for the best. There are programs, such as the one my son is in, that are run solely on public money. There is no way to continue to run this program on just the money the families will be getting, even at reduced hours. Don't even get me started on where they might find the money to fund this. When you do the math, we are really only talking about a savings of just under $1 million per year. I would be totally surprised if we couldn't find that in the couch cushions of one of the offices in the leg. Of course I say this tongue in cheek, but a government who had a direct interest in this would find it somewhere. Of that I have no doubt. Maybe government officials shouldn't be taking large raises and leaving our kids out in the wind.

Fighting for my son - good points. The problem is, quite frankly, you need to point out line items of direct, cuttable gov't waste so that we can try to cut it to fight for you son plus all the other sons & daughters out there. Or be ready to fight for a tax increase against some of the very same people who bailed out the BCLibs last spring...

As of now, I want to help you and even find a way to expand the funding, but without the resources - and yes, some were wasted on over-the-top raises - have to make do with reduced hours. You find the line-items to cut and I'll lobby my contacts (who if I named them would mean I couldn't help you at the least) to lobby for the transfers.

But quite frankly: A lot of public services are having to make do with reduced hours right now as well. Sorry, but nobody gets a free pass from a global recession :-(. At least Minister Polak is cutting her HQ big time - that's a leader! At least she and her people under her leadership are making a small cut and a small growth for a lot of families - that's a leader! At least she's taking the heat like a leader!

So please, stop the rhetoric and bring a solution. A real one please.

Josef, you really are a rare bird, and that's putting it politely.

It isn't necessary for any member of the public to acquire a copy of the budget and go through a line by line analysis in order to criticize this moronic move by Mary Polak. All it requires is a modicum of decency, some compassion, and an elementary understanding of how decisions are made.

Like many Victorians in thier child-rearing years, I worked for government until very recently. I saw with my own eyes a government that spent like drunken frat boys for years, and never hesitated to direct rivers of cash toward the Premier's restricted range of special interests.

Campbell's disinterest in special-needs children is well known. Remember the IQ over 70 incident of last year, and the ongoing inability of the government to establish an MCFD that actually functions well. It is symptomatic of his personal failure to connect with the public heart and soul.

The fact is, we live under a government that cares more for snowboarders, forestry executives, and power producers than it does for real flesh and blood families.

SO open your window and look out at any one of the government's follies, and take the money from that. Take it from the Olympics, take it from the transmission lines, take it from the convention centre, but just don't take it from children.

I really look forward to the extension of the government's new interest in regional equity. It will make the next set of provincial-federal meetings so interesting. The hinterlands will be thrilled that politicans like Campbell are abandoning their urban exceptionalism. huzzah!

Old Brooktrout, so what would you cut from the Olympics?

So you think the North shouldn't have transmission lines?

So you want to cut something already built that's a source of pride for Vancouver?

That's your plan? Get a real one - and research how Langley Seniors Outreach was rescued.

Now why don't you go back to your bunker because quite frankly, Minister Polak does give a damn. Minister Polak is cutting her HQ to get MCFD to fighting weight. Minister Polak - having grown up in child poverty w/ a mom with special needs - is quite frankly the best hope the MCFD clients have against those frat boys. Oh and Minister Polak is right to note that only 70 children got funding versus 800 others. Anybody ask about the fairness to the 800 other kids w/ the same disease and the same age group? In a time of cutbacks galore?!? When this Minister's own riding is home to Fraser Health Authority & the Langley School District?!?

It takes a Polak to ask that question, I believe.

Josef: What is your relationship with Mary Polak? I see you are all over her facebook page, you update all her blogs postings seeding positive spin and put down others who actually make logical arguments against her. Are you family or paid support? Also, I noticed you are based out of Washington State.
Don't you feel just a bit guilty since you are posing as a concerned CANADIAN citizen?
Mary Polak is set to destroy the funding designed to save our society money by making these children self sufficient. It is people like you and her who are costing the CANADIAN tax payers BILLIONS of dollars when this could easily be resolved by increasing the amount spent per year on therapy (and no 2K is nothing when parents are selling their houses to fund this).
The real trick here that many are missing is that Polak wants to do away with the Direct Funding option as a first step to control the funds. It is obvious this is her real objective and the rest (including your posts) are interference to divert our attention.
Stick to US politics Josef!

Josef K, here are my replies to Minister Polak's first statement - http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=134222624507&topic=11676

Here are my replies to the "not fair" argument - http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=134222624507&topic=11677

As to where the money will come from, as I said in my first statement, it's not about money. It's about priorities. A priority to not run a bigger deficit. A priority to spend money in one area and not another. Given the fact that Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies has estimated that EIBI programs for young children with autism can have a net benefit (future savings minus current costs) of $2.5 million per child there is no better way to spend money.

Chris.

Bob, a contact and I've worked w/ autism issues for quite a while so I have some skin & personal interest in this. That will be all you need to know Mr. Nozy.

Bob, you're just lobbing stuff to distract from the issues. You have no plan - again, no plan to fix the problem I can take to my BCLib contacts to help you, I'm sorry to say. You need a plan if you want to fix this. Research Langley Seniors Outreach via Google News - that'll help you.

Quite frankly I've been trying to help you guys as well. Tried to drop hints how to persuade this Minister. Tried to post links to docs to help you make your case. So don't smear me like you have Bob.

I'll stop there.

Chris;

I'd respond on your Facebook page but would like to keep the give & take debate here. I don't think running a higher deficit will run w/ the BCLib crowd - they've bent over backwards to run the higher deficit w/o cutting frontline services. A line-item veto of another item would work.

There is now (surprise, surprise) a YouTube of Minister Polak's side of the story. I do support her decision, as much as I want an alternative and quite frankly wish the BCLibs would find something or some things to line-item veto to pay for the full 870 * $70,000 = $60,900,000 for every BC kid to have intensive therapy. As-is now Minister Polak, MLA can't even get $20 mil for intensive therapy.

Being that I've worked in governments for quite some time, it makes it much easier to push a cause when there's something they can cut or a small tax increase people won't fight for a good cause. Again, I'd like to help you guys.

RE: Bob He and Josef K reply.

Well done Bob.
Notice how Josef does the two step around your pointed questions/findings.
"Thats all you need to know Mr Nozy" ?
I beg to differ.
Good for you Bob. Deceptive, PAB style, Net based influence peddlars should be checked out and called out, just as you did Bob.
Thank You for your efforts............

Chris, I thought that was beneath you to slam me as part of the PAB. I'm sure if you went over the PAB phonebook you wouldn't find me there. Gee, thanks. I really like the fact that in most comment threads, we start lobbing smears instead of working the problem.

Chris;

Even though your disparaging smear of me working in the PAB angers me as it is fueling something totally bogus, I have read your Facebook links again. I do see a plan from your people which I will put in italics:

What if the QAC and the other EIBI programs in the province were became semi-private, semi-userpay systems? We could use the $22000 allocated by MCFD for each autistic child along with our daycare subsidies--conveniently funded from the same government--in a combined contribution to partially pay for our children's spots at the QA--until the next election!

I am afraid that if we lose this program under this government, having the next government reinstate it will probably become impossible. Seriously, just look at the past; most-times, when a government ends a service in favour of streamlining, we (as the people) get upset at the current govt, then elect a new one only to have them maintain the system they inherited--guilt free. If we can--at least--keep the EIBI program afloat, we might stand a better chance of having the next government reinstate the funding, at which point we can collectively pursue and recoup our costs.

This is something I could support and I think would be fair to all 870 ASD children to use the $22,000 + daycare subsidy. Count me in. Meanwhile, let's find that $60,900,000 for all 870 kids.

Oh and this being daycare? To the nut who wrote that on the Times-Colonist site: Give. Me. A. Break. It's medical care, that's what this is.

I defend the minister's logic, but I am an Aspie too. I'll stop there for now. Take care and please let me know what you think.


Josef K, Its a different Chris.
Standown.
No need for anger toward Facebook Chris.
Also, the statement was PAB "STYLE", as in your style of messaging and website "blanketing". There was no statement that you work in PAB. So, be sure of what was put forward before rising with righteous indignation.

Thanks Facebook Chris. Standing down.

Go get 'em!

FYI - there was some discussion on CKNW about this today that I've YouTubed. There was a great explanation that the invoice funding is to duck the HST as well.

Figure this was the least I could do... in between growls from the EA-18G Growler buzzing my bunker.

Have a good weekend!

Josef K (AKA Josef A Kunzler) who lives in the USA is trying to make this make sense but it simply does not.
- Show me how people will continue to work in this industry when Invoice Funding forces them to get paid 3 months late?
- Show me how this won't cost tax payers more money now that the government will have to manage it (parents do this with Direct Funding)
- Show me how this benefits the children? It is totally inflexible and can only be seen as a strategy to discourage us in the fight to help these helpless children.

Bob, why don't you stop making this personal? Perhaps because you have no plan whatsoever to adapt to the changes of a massive deficit, a group of contacts of mine trying to deal with that + more kids w/ ASD and because you want a punching bag I'm convienent. At least I'm trying to make something happen - partially out of yes, guilt.

Answering your questions - I have never had a problem w/ an invoice that one phone call or e-mail handled as a contractor. Most invoices are dealt w/ promptly by secretarial staff. Your cynical view is not helping anybody or anyone - it is instead making life hell for people who are trying to work the problem.

Mary Polak has one foot in the political grave already. Watching her attempt to fumble her way through question period is absolutely comical, and she will soon join her predecessors in the political boneyard that is the MCFD.

Scambell took a huge gamble (rhyme not intended) on this looney and it is only a matter of time before she steps in it big time with her gaping mouth and extreme views.

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