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Press Release: Budget Cuts Threaten Future for Youth with Developmental Disabilities

Summary: 
The BC Legislature debated budget estimates for CLBC in session on July 9. Inclusion BC responded with the following press release:

Budget numbers showing continuing pattern of steady cuts in per-person spending for people receiving services funded by Community Living BC were at the top of the agenda as debates over budget estimates for Community Living BC and the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation came to the floor of the BC Legislature yesterday, July 9.

Inclusion BC is pleased to note that Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation Don McRae clarified on multiple occasions that “Existing funding for individuals and families will be maintained. Any changes will be by mutual agreement, both with CLBC and the families and individuals involved. There is no plan to make reductions.”
 
The increasing caseloads and decreasing per-person spending indicated in the proposed 2013 BC Budget, however, mean that people with developmental disabilities and their families are at risk from budget and service cuts in British Columbia. This is particularly critical for transitioning youth who will begin to receive services funded by CLBC in coming years for the first time.
 
Budget estimates predict that by 2016, 6625 people will receive residential services in British Columbia, funded by CLBC. At the same time, the government expects that these services will decrease in cost, from $71,000 per person as of 2013, to $63,000 per person in 2015-16. In addition, while the government itself notes in Budget 2013 that community living funding is “sensitive to the pressures of an aging population,” yet in sharp contrast these estimates show little understanding of the of changing needs as people with developmental disabilities age and will need more funding for supports rather than less.
 
Similar estimates were forecast for CLBC funding for daytime supports and activities. In addition, the Personal Supports Initiative, which funds supports for adults with fetal alcohol syndrome disorder and autism, see caseloads increase from 424 in 2012/13 to 945 in 2015/16, while costs per person are again being expected to decrease from $24,000 this year, to $16,000 in 2013/14, to $10,108 by 2015/16.
 
"Increasing caseloads and decreasing costs per person can only happen when existing services are cut or services available to newly eligible individuals are reduced or simply not there. Given the Minister’s stated commitment yesterday that no services will be reduced, how will youth transitioning to adult life be funded? Realisitically, this can only mean that these youth will not have of the services they need at age 19," said Faith Bodnar, Executive Director of Inclusion BC, the provincial advocacy organization of people with developmental disabilities, their families, and over 70 member agencies that provide services to people with developmental disabilities in the province. “What we need is a real, substantial investment in CLBC to support everyone who will be receiving services for the first time. Anything less will quickly lead to desperation.”
 
The Minister also spoke today about the 12 points of the Deputy Minister’s Report, Improving Services to People with Developmental Disabilities, released in December 2011. Minister McRae said that “all 12 [recommendations] have been completed.” While we are encouraged by the work being done around the 12 recommendations, it is clear that the recommendations have not been completed and their promise has not been fulfilled. Much critical work is yet to be done before we will see any significant improvement in access to services for people with developmental disabilities and their families in BC. “The breadth, scope and long-term nature of the issues, many of which are systemic, cannot be met or fulfilled in one short year,” said Bodnar. 
 
One positive step forward that was announced yesterday toward one of the twelve points is the simplification of the application process for Persons With Disabilities (PWD) benefits for transitioning youth with developmental disabilities. Bodnar, who sits on the Disability Without Poverty coalition, said that she is “pleased that the ministry has implemented the recommendation of the Disability Without Poverty Coalition to simplify the application process for transitioning youth.”
 
The government’s approach to negotiated wage increases in the sector is problematic and lacks clarity, creating instability in the social services sector. The government was supportive of the bargaining process and the collective agreement, but appears now to place the burden to fund these increases within the existing budgets of service providers. Service provider agencies are operating on budgets with no room to spare. Collective bargaining increases in the community living sector must be funded through government ministry and crown corporation savings rather than on the backs of direct service providers.
Inclusion BC, formerly the BC Association for Community Living (BCACL), is a provincial advocacy organization with over 70 member agencies dedicated to building community and enhancing the lives of children and youth with special needs, adults with developmental disabilities, and their families by supporting abilities, promoting action and advancing rights and social justice.

Contact:Lynne Kates
Communications Coordinator
Inclusion BC
(604)777-9100 x. 527
ckates@inclusionbc.org

Quick Links

Inclusion BC Analysis of BC Budget 2013 June Update

Draft Transcripts of the Debates of the Legislative Assembly, Committee A, Tuesday, July 9, 2013 (Morning Session)

Draft Transcripts of the Debates of the Legislative Assembly, Committee A, Tuesday, July 9, 2013 (Afternoon Session)

Inclusion BC Website