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British Columbia Budget 2012 Announced Today

Summary: 
BC's Minister of Finance announced the 2012 provincial budget today. The budget confirmed previous announcements of funding increase to CLBC, the Ministry of Social Development and to the Ministry of Education (classroom improvement fund).

However, we are concerned that frozen budgets in other areas will further impact the profound poverty and exclusion experienced by children, youth and adults with developmental disabilities and their families.

Media:

 

Supports to Adults with Developmental Disabilities

The budget reconfirmed previously announced funding increases to services and supports for people with developmental disabilities in the amount of $144 million over three years. We are pleased to see this investment annualized and we recognize that this investment stands out at a time of fiscal restraint. The breakdown of funding is outlined in the budget as follows (see page 30):

"As noted previously, funding will be reallocated from the Contingencies vote to provide the following increases to the Ministry of Social Development:

• $54 million over three years to fund the full-year cost of the approximately 540 people in receipt of additional CLBC services in 2011/12;

• $60 million over three years to support the development of new approaches to day and employment programs, improve transition planning for youth with developmental disabilities, facilitate transition to individualized funding, and support innovations in the sector; and

• $30 million over three years to fund CLBC’s incremental costs for Community Social Services Employers’ Association employees adopting the Municipal Pension Plan in order to protect front-line services. In addition, $12 million continues to be notionally allocated in the Contingencies vote to further support anticipated CLBC caseload increases."

Education

The budget confirmed the previously announced $165 million over the next three years for the "learning improvement fund." We look forward to hearing specific details about how the fund will be allocated. The Ministry must ensure that the learning improvement fund is also accompanied by clear accountability measures that lead to better training.

We are concerned that general funding for school districts has been frozen for the next three years. With inflation and other downloaded costs, we worry that school boards will be forced to make cuts in other areas which will once again be felt by students with special needs.

Ministry of Education Service Plan

Income Security

Income assistance rates for people with disabilities (PWD benefits) were not raised in this budget. BC lags behind most provinces in Canada when it comes to ensuring people with disabilities have enough to live on. As Alberta recently announced a substantial increase to disability rates in that province, we hope BC will soon follow suit. BCACL calls for a plan to address the poverty that people with developmental disabilities experience by taking the steps needed to increase income benefits and to change the policies so that they support people to get and keep jobs.

Ministry of Social Development Service Plan

Supports to Children and Families

The Ministry of Children and Family Development saw a small increase to its budget but not nearly enough to address the needs of children and youth with special needs and their families who are on waitlists for urgent therapy services, infant development programs, supported child development programs and respite care.

Ministry of Children and Family Development Service Plan