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Watch our 60th Anniversary video that honours and remembers the civil rights history of people with developmental disabilities in BC. Read more about our history here.

Analysis of BC Budget 2013

Summary: 
Inclusion BC Executive Director Faith Bodnar and political analyst and Inclusion BC supporter Michael Prince were in Victoria to respond to the budget and its impact on children and youth with special needs, adults with developmental disabilities and their families.

RecentMedia

Faith Bodnar on Simi Sara Show
CKNW Radio, Exact time 1:06pm
To listen to the interview, choose February 25, 1:00pm. Interview begins 6 minutes in. 

Editorial: Funding cuts need a roadmap
Times Colonist, February 24, 2013

B.C. plans to slash funding for adults with disabilities
By Lindsay Kines, Victoria Times Colonist, February 20, 2013

Developmentally disabled to feel knife of budget cutbacks, documents show
By Lindsay Kines, Victoria Times Colonist February 21, 2013
 

B.C. budget disappoints advocates for community social services
By John Kay, Special to The Vancouver Sun February 20, 2013

Comment: Child tax credit a small diamond in the rough
Michael J. Prince, Times Colonist, February 21, 2013

 

 

The Minister of Finance announced the 2013 BC Budget today. Visit the BC Budget 2013 website to read official budget documents.

Highlights:

  • No budget increases were made to Community Living BC, despite our repeated calls for an immediate and urgent investment. Inclusion BC continues to hear from families who are told there is simply no money to provide them with the supports they desperately need. While we are encouraged by the work being done on the 12 recommendations from the Deputy Minister's report, without an immediate financial investment, CLBC will continue operating in crisis-mode. See below for more details.
  • No increases were made to Persons with Disability benefits. Despite the rising cost of living in BC, one of the most expensive places to live in the country, our PWD rates are 6th lowest in Canada. The Province of BC recently responded to community and made many positive changes to PWD benefits, including raising the earnings exemptions. However, we continue calling on Government to raise the rates so that people with disabilities are not consistently forced to live in poverty. Read the report, "Overdue" for more information. 
  • See below for other highlights from the 2013 budget.

Children and Youth with Special Needs

  • The Ministry of Children and Family Development will see an additional $76 million over three years allocated towards the BC Early Learning Strategy. The funding will create new child care spaces and improve the quality of care.

While this is a welcome announcement, improvements to the access and quality of the supported child development program must occur to allow children with special needs to access these new spaces.

  • An increase of $7 million was announced for the coordination of early childhood development programs. It was not made clear what “coordination” would entail.

Budget documents failed to mention or address the growing waitlists for children requiring early childhood development supports and the fact that we still do not have a handle on the size of the caseloads and waitlists.

We do know that children are aging out of the supports before they are able to receive what they need. As we fail to provide children with the supports they need at a young age, we pay more for the additional services they require as they enter the school system and then when they graduate high school. 

Education

The Ministry of Education budget was overall flat-lined over the next three years.

  • The Learning Improvement Fund saw an increase from $30 million to $60 million. We need clear, targeted direction from the Ministry in terms of ensuring outcomes that actually improve education for students, especially those with special needs.
  • The Ministry of Education must take a leadership role in supporting all educators, including classroom teachers, to address diversity in the classroom. While there will be an additional 400 Teaching Assistants hired over the next three years within the existing budget allocation, we need to ensure that all educators and para educators receive the pre and post service training to allow them to support students with special needs in regular classrooms.
  • A new $1200 grant was announced for students between 6 and 7 years of age to receive a Registered Education Savings Plan investment. This is a welcome announcement but will not come into effect for two years, when the province’s budget is “firmly in surplus.”

Supports to Adults with Developmental Disabilities

We learned that Community Living BC would not receive any funding increase.

  • A small contingency fund exists to address increases in caseloads. This is extremely concerning as the funding would be allocated to those who come forward on an emergency basis or who advocate publicly.

This perpetuates a one-off system to address growing needs and deepens a very real crisis in community living. It cannot address the unmet needs of people waiting for services.

Individuals and their families remain desperately invisible. By not recognizing them in this budget we are balancing our books on the backs of our most vulnerable citizens.

Community Living BC Caseloads:

Residential:

  • Residential Services caseloads will increase from 5750 in 2012/13 to 6000 in 2013/14 and to 6625 in 2015/16.
  • At the same time, there is a forecasted decrease in the average cost per client, which will go from $71,000 in 2012/12 to $68,500 in 2013/14 to $66,000 in 2014/15 and $63,000 in 2015/16.

We are concerned increasing caseloads and decreasing costs per person can only happen when existing services are cut and reduced for newly eligible individuals. This formula risks putting us through yet another round of budget cuts.

Day Programs:

  • Day Program caseloads will increase from 14,500 in 2012/13 to 15,400 in 2013/14 to 16,100 in 2014/15 and 16,900 in 2015/16 while costs per person are expected to decrease.

Again, this is an unsustainable way to address the needs of those newly eligible for CLBC services. Budget documents acknowledge that ageing is adding additional pressures to CLBC’s capacity. If we want to maintain a high quality community system of supports and services we cannot continue to bleed services away from people who need them.

Income Security

Persons with Disability Benefits

No increase was announced to these very low rates over the next three years, though the number of people receiving PWD benefits is expected to increase by 6% each year.

BC’s Disability Benefits continue to be the 6th lowest in Canada. We must address these abysmally low rates so that those receiving benefits have the money they need to live beyond subsistence levels.