23 September 2009

Press event: autism funding cut

This morning I went to a press "event" at the BC legislature. Here's the event email I received:

In response to recent funding cuts to provincial EIBI programs, NDP critic for the MCFD Maurine Karagianis will be bringing up this issue today in the legislature during Question Period, and has planned a media event for tomorrow, Wednesday September 23rd, at 10:00 am at the legislature.

We are asking for anyone who opposes the termination of these programs to attend this event. This invitation extends not just to the families who are being directly affected by this decision, but to anyone who is concerned about reductions to autism and special needs services, including waitlisted families, former program participants, professionals, extended family, and more. VSCA believes that children with autism and other special needs need increased access to supports and therapies, not a reduction, and that discontinuing these programs will result in further costs in supporting these children long term.

Date: Wednesday September 23rd
Time: 10:00 am
Location: NDP Opposition Office, Room #201, BC Legislature

Please meet at the office shortly before 10:00am.

Thank you for your support.
So we arrived shortly before 10 and the very nice security people helped us carry the stroller up the stairs. We gave them our i.d., they gave us a visitor's pass, and off we went. The event had been moved to a larger room because they got more people than expected. That was a pleasant surprise. When we got to the room, it was already pretty full, but a very nice lady offered me her seat. Crackle squawked plenty, and finally Mr.FCS took him out. I was right behind the people giving their speeches, so I tried my best to look nice, not pick my nose, etc. I did my breastfeeding advocacy duty, and nursed the baby in front of all the cameras.

A number of people gave very good speeches. A few people gave very long boring speeches. I think the best points were these:
1) EIBI cuts will cost the government money in the long run, because children who receive EIBI are less likely to need government care, support workers, disability welfare, etc.
2) Cutting off any public option and forcing everyone into a private system, even while funding it, is seriously irresponsible because the progress of children going to these programs isn't monitored.
3) The government claims this isn't a cut. They say that because they're giving 1.6 million back to the parents (from a 4.9 million program), they're just reallocating to make it more equitable. This is bullshit because a) 1.6 is less than 4.9, and (b) because that 1.6 million will come back to the government via the HST, which is being imposed on the program next year.

I don't expect it to do a damn thing, this being the Campbell government, but at least we tried.

p.s. Order your shirt! I ordered mine yesterday.