Equal time

On Wednesday evening, Minister of Children and Family Development Mary Polak met with early intensive behavioural intervention supporters to discuss the government's decision to shutdown that program. So what happened? Not much, according to Victoria Society for Children with Autism co-director Laurel Duruisseau. In an interview on Public Eye Radio, Ms. Duruisseau said Minister Polak "just reiterated her position - their position - of equity. That, essentially, this is the amount of funds they have available and they feel this is the best way to use them to meet as many needs as possible. And that was the extent of the meeting."

Nor, according to Ms. Duruisseau, did Minister Polak give details on her promise to support children already in the early intervention program so their "their transition to the autism funding program is as smooth as we can possibly make it."

"There's no details at all," the co-director said. "And a smooth transition - that's not really good enough. That's not going to replace what all these kids are losing."


On what basis or evidence has Minister Polak concluded that this is the best way to spend available funds?

Ms. Polak has no expertise, no experience and no understanding of autism and autism treatment. She and her staff have undertaken NO consultation with the community, families, service providers or professionals in the field of autism over what is the best way to spend available funds.

I've spoken to parents, professionals and service providers since the decision was announced and can find no one who thinks this makes any sense. No one else has come forward and supported the decision publicly either.

We are left to conclude then, that this Minister believes it's wise to make major decisions that will affect the lives of profoundly disabled toddlers based on nothing more than a personal hunch. It's a truly frightening realization!

Imagine her colleague Mr Falcon deciding that in the interests of equity we should cut off all funding for hospitals and give every British Columbian the same annual allowance to cover any health expenses that might arise.

Utter foolishness, you'd say? How is this any more foolish than what Minister Polak is doing to children with Autism Spectrum Disorder?

I'm no professional, but the little I know is that in dealing with a spectrum disorder in which every child presents with different strengths and deficits, treatment needs to be individualized and individual treatment programs need to be designed and supervised by professionals with appropriate expertise in the field -- i.e. the exact model of the programs being cancelled. These were among the very few things this Ministry was actually doing right!!

If Minister Polak had the slightest interest in "equity" she would not be cancelling these autism programs. She would instead be calling on her staff to work with professionals in the field to develop a full range of similar programs to provide appropriate, individualized early intervention to every child who needs it, whether those children have Autism, Down Syndrome, CP, FASD, Aquired Brain Injury or other intellectual/ development disabilities.

Ms Polak's shameful decision is also part of a much broader pattern of non-evidence-based government decision-making - a deeply-troubling pattern that has helped to put this governemnt in such a severe fiscal hole.

As it is, BC taxpayers are throwing away millions on band aid solutions with no accountability and lifelong stop-gap responses, instead of investing in proven early interventions that could give thousands of toddlers a shot at a near normal life, some degree of lifelong independence and a chance to be productive, contributing citizens as adults. And that applies to much more than MCFD's autism policy - the list goes on and on!

Good comment Dawn, I expect Joseph K will run to Mary Polak`s rescue.....

Mary Polak is a skilled politician,nothing more,her argument about equity fails badly......

Would you like an example of this?

Type 1 diabetes, the province has a program for poor children with type 1 diabetes, insulin pumps are supplied for free for families that qualify financially,the program is capped at 1.5 million per year or 200 little kids,but here is my point.....

There are approximately 800 kids whose family qualifies financially for insulin pumps,but they are on the list,maybe next year or the year after they will get one,or maybe they will drop dead or move and save the province money.....Mary Polak`s argument...Should they shut down this program too? Despite the petty chinciness of the province, controlling type 1 diabetes for kids is a great program,Mary Polak,great politician but all she is in real life is a Gordon Campbell boot-licker,in fact all the BC liberals are spineless drones.

I Would like to see a ethical BC Liberal stand up for the public just once.......

When pigs fly

"hiding in canada", you did what dawn steele could not do - make me stick up for the Honourable Mary Polak, MLA. When you make comments like "a Gordon Campbell boot-licker" and "all the BC liberals are spineless drones" you make no contribution to the debate whatsoever. Personal attacks are only going to stiffen spine on all sides.

I did record Mary Polak on CKNW last night... she did good. Now that I've heard the other side (enough), I do agree with both dawn & Mary, quite frankly. dawn because instead of 'short-termism w/ autism', we need a strategic plan to deal w/ autism from all levels of government globally. Minister Mary because she's trying to address the fiscal issues fairly - but the fiscal issues alone. dawn steele covers the human issues quite well.

I've studied Minister Polak's tactics, doctrines and logic for a while now as yes she is a great politician and a "top gun"... and fair warning: she's made her mind up & the decision will stick... unless you guys up there start putting pressure on 84 MLAs to get a plan to fund EIBI for every child. Or take her gov't to the Canadian Supreme Court...

Being an open government buff, I also would recommend that a FOIA be filed to the Ministry for all documentation, meeting minutes, transcripts, e-mails, etcetera on this decision. Yes, it'll cost probably some serious dough but having them will help Sean & the other good folks hold this gov't accountable.

Finally, please stop with the personal attacks, all it does is discredit the person(s) lobbing them as well as their cause(s). I hope Sean H. will please help with this effort.

I come bringing good news... and I mean good news... The Province's Smitty just found millions in government waste. Nothing wrong with turning the (game) table right around on the Campbell government and "Going Polak" by saying... CUT THIS AND FUND EIBI FOR EVERY CHILD. HEALTH CARE BEFORE BUREAUCRAT CARE!

Like, for instance, $1.2 million to BC Rail execs for a company mostly shuttered by Premier Campbell.

Like, for instance, $1.4 million for Olympics tickets that could be auctioned (and Min. Mary Polak, MLA would most certainly do so if she had them for the autistic kids) for likely more than that. I noticed the BCNDP last week went Polak & made a splash target out of Min. McNeil.

Like, for instance, $7 million for advertising and $28 million for the Public Affairs Bureau that could be cut from the largest gov't communications apparatus out there.

People, I tried to make this point before being shouted down, but there are off-sets that could be made by the Campbell Government to support Min. Mary Polak, MLA & all kids w/ autism. It's past time to put the government sent in to be the friend of the taxpayer to play on their turf... and play to win with a stinger. Perhaps instead of personal attacks... we can fix the problem right here in these comment threads.


P.S. Minister Mary said something last night on CKNW worth noting... quote, "my father always says that on something like this, you should spend as much as you possibly can. I think that's true but there's always a limit".

Quote of the week, chaps. Kick the tires, light the fires. I just gave you an Air Targeting Order/ATO for the kids.

Josef, maybe these details are surprising to you. Anyone who's lived under this regime, or worked for it, will not bat an eyelid at the news that Campbell's adminsitration hemmorages taxpayers money from every pore, and on the stupidest projects. That's what's so disgusting about going after a program that helps children with autism enjoy the fullest and best life. Only a fool would've made this decision.

#1. I would appreciate it if people stop calling people they disagree with names - that includes the Honourable Minister & I please. It doesn't work and stiffens spine and adds earwax to those whom you call "fool", "destroyer of humanity", etcetera. Thanks!

#2. Up on YouTube is Min. Polak, MLA on Global BC on the crisis/reforms... along w/ the parents and the NDP critic. Unlike w/ other BCLibFan YouTubes, this one's rather... muted.

Leave a comment

Copyright © 2004 - Public Eye Mediaworks. Reproductions of any portion of this Website are permitted only with the expressed permission of Public Eye Mediaworks.
Canadian Web Hosting graciously provided by dotcanuck Web Services. Layout and graphics courtesy of Art Department Design.