The government axed an initiative to reduce the number of babies with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder six months after conducting a poll to determine how aware British Columbians are about the risks of drinking during pregnancy. But the government has the results won't be available until later this year, when a report on the survey is provided to health authorities. The Times Colonist's Lindsay Kines was the first to report on the premature cancellation of the Healthy Choices in Pregnancy initiative, which had its funding for fiscal 2009/10 pulled in September.
"It leaves us in a bit of bind in that we won't be able to actually learn as much as we should have been able to learn from this program," said Jan Christilaw, the president of B.C. Women's Hospital - which had partnered with the ministry of healthy living and sport on that initiative.
But, before it was shutdown, BC Stats - on behalf of the government's women's healthy living secretariat - conducted a comprehensive survey asking questions such as, "If a person you live with or are close to was to become, or is pregnancy, would you encourage her to stop all alcohol consumption?," and "How did you change your drinking during pregnancy?"
The answers to those questions would have provide some indication of the need for an initiative like Healthy Choices in Pregnancy. But the government has said they won't be available until sometimes this spring. According to a spokesperson, that's when a report on that will poll will be "completed and provided to maternal-child health stakeholders in health authorities...Until then, no data is available."
The spokesperson also defended the government's record in addressing fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, noting the Campbell administration "has exceeded its original ActNow BC target for 50 per cent of pregnant women in B.C. to receive counselling on alcohol use during pregnancy. In fact, 71 per cent of pregnant women in B.C. received counselling last year about alcohol use during pregnancy."
The following is a complete copy of the aforementioned survey questions, which were obtained by Public Eye.