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Win-Win-Win


Over the last year, I have been standing up for children with autism and their families.


Last October, the BC NDP Government announced that they would be changing their autism funding model from individualized parent-directed funding to a HUB model.


Right now, parents are able to direct funds towards personalized programs and therapies.


A HUB model of care means children would access care through community centres and parents would have less control over what programs and therapies are available to them.


This is a model of care that Ontario switched to a few years ago.


Waitlists have skyrocketed and tripled, children are not getting the necessary care and are falling through the cracks, advocacy groups are calling for a shift back to individualized funding models, and families are literally moving out of Ontario to get better resources for their children.


Ontario has become chaotic in its delivery of care. This HUB system is a disaster.


This would be a devastating change for families with children with autism, and the announcement last October from Mitzi Dean, Minister of Children and Family Development, sent traumatizing shockwaves through the community.


There is no time for mistakes in the life of a child.


We know that early intervention and care can mean the difference between independent successful living in adulthood, or dependency for life for some.


Is the individualized funding model perfect?


No, there are changes needed.


For example, all children with neuro diversity need treatment and care.


Right now the individualized funding model only includes for those with autism. This definition needs to be expanded.


Additionally, funding only happens with diagnosis and currently, diagnostic professionals have tremendous waitlists.


But once you have the diagnosis, the funding can be targeted specifically to the needs of the child with autism.


So what should have been fixed?


An expansion of the individualized funding to all children of neuro diversity and an expansion of the number of diagnostic professionals.


Instead of making those adjustments, the NDP government changed the model into a one-size-fits all and only if you can get in.


Thankfully all of that changed this last week.


The NDP government and new Premier David Eby, reversed course and went back to individualized care.


On a Friday. Without a press conference. Just a video from in his office.


Parents of children with autism have been advocating for over a year. Protests on the steps of the Legislative Assembly, letters, petitions, tears, and meetings with each MLA that would meet with them.


Along with my BC Liberal colleagues, we have been listening and active in our opposition to these changes, asking the Minister and the government to reconsider and listen to the families.


This is the job of His Majesty’s Loyal Opposition.


To demand more explanation on government decisions, laws, & regulation. To find the cracks and be the voice of people affected by all that government does or doesn’t do.


The goal of the opposition is to improve legislation and outcomes for all British Columbians.


And we have.


We have stood at those rallies, spoken, advocated, asked questions in the Legislative Assembly, delivered speeches, and sounded the alarm bell.


The changes that the government was in the process of making were wrong and we echoed the voices and became the loud horn to tell government about it.


That is our job.


So in my view, this was a win.


It was a win for the opposition because government had to back down. It was a win for parents who have been re-traumatized over the last year not knowing how they were going to get the resources needed for their child.


But the real winners are the children.


And that’s why I love my job.


My question to you is this: What would you like the opposition to focus on next?


I love hearing from you!


Please email me at Renee.Merrifield.MLA@leg.bc.ca or call the office at 250-712-3620.

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