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Parents keep pressure on NDP plan for B.C. child support hubs

Kevin Falcon says he’ll return to individualized funding
B.C. Liberal leader Kevin Falcon at an event outside the B.C. legislature on Feb. 9 that called for the province to end its planned phase-out of individualized autism funding. (Jake Romphf/Victoria News)

B.C. Children and Families Minister Mitzi Dean launched an online survey this week to get feedback on the ministry’s plan to phase out individual funding support children with autism, Down Syndrome and other neurological conditions, as parents continued to provide their own feedback at MLA constituency offices.

B.C. Liberal leader Kevin Falcon attended a demonstration outside Attorney General David Eby’s office in Vancouver-Point Grey on Friday, where he repeated his vow to scrap a plan for regional service hubs that Dean says will be phased in over three years. Parents and autism support organizations have been calling on Dean to maintain individual funding for families since the hub plan was announced last October.

“There’s still time for the NDP to listen to families and reverse their planned cruel clawbacks,” Falcon said April 29. “The NDP’s ‘government knows best’ approach flies in the face of 20 years of evidence demonstrating the benefits of the individualized funding model.”

Dean’s ministry opened a survey this week the planned “family connection centres,” the first four of which are to open in 2023 in Kelowna, Terrace, Smithers and Prince Rupert. The ministry wants 40 such centres around the province starting in 2024.

In the legislature Thursday, Dean said her ministry has been hearing from families since 2019, on concerns about giving up their individualized care and having to travel to regional centres. B.C. Liberal critic Trevor Halford read a quote from a parent who accused Dean of withholding information about the changes and refusing to meet directly with parents.

“I’ve continued to meet with advocacy groups and service groups over the last 18 months, since I have the honour of being in this position,” Dean told the legislature April 29. “We need to make sure that we’re getting the system right, so we also have further opportunities.”

The online survey is open until Sept. 9, and includes a “service framework and service descriptions summary” of the new program and the goals of the family connection centres.

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