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2018 Ask for the 2019 Budget

Each fall, the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services holds province-wide public consultations on the upcoming provincial budget for BC. Communication Matters, An SLP Advocacy Group for Young Children in BC, will be asking for the following. If you are also concerned about speech-language services for the preschool-aged population in BC, then feel free to use this Ask as well.


Communication Matters’ 2018 Ask for the 2019 Budget

The number of preschool-aged children in BC who require speech-language pathology (SLP) support is approximately 23,0001 – and Therapy BC recommends that a therapist carries a caseload of 25-40 clients.2 Assuming we use the higher caseload size (40 children), this indicates that at least 575 full-time SLPs are needed to work with this population in British Columbia (BC).

The Speech and Hearing BC Early Intervention SLP Director is working with Senior SLPs across the province to determine the exact number of SLP full-time equivalents (FTEs) currently serving this population within the public sector. Although we do not yet have this exact figure, we are confident that it is less than 200 FTEs.

Therefore, there is an immediate need for an additional 375 full-time speech-language pathologists for the preschool-aged population in BC. If the current funding system is followed, these positions would be funded through the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Children and Family Development.

Taking the base starting wage of approximately $88,500 per year ($58,032 per year3 – plus benefits), this means there is an immediate need for at least $33,187,500.00 to be specifically designated for SLP services for preschool-aged children in BC to address the current gaps in service.

In summary, we are asking the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services to recommend that the BC Budget 2019 allocates 33.2 million dollars so preschool-aged children in our province have access to the speech-language pathology services they need in order to build a strong communication foundation for all their future learning.


1. Data Source: Demography Division, Statistics Canada, Ottawa. Prepared and presented by: BC Stats, BC Ministry of Technology, Innovation and Citizens’ Services. Retrieved from https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/data/statistics/people-population-community/population/population-estimates.

2. Therapy BC. Promoting Manageable Workloads Project Phase 2 – Preferred Practice Guidelines for BC Paediatric Therapists (2008). Retrieved from http://www.therapybc.ca/pdf/PreferredPracticeGuidelines.pdf.

3. 2014-2019 Health Science Professionals Bargaining Association Collective Agreement. Retrieved from https://hsabc.org/collective-agreements/health-science-professionals.

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Advocacy vs. Lobbying

If you’re interested to speak up about additional speech and language services for preschool-aged children, it may be helpful for you to understand if you are advocating or lobbying.

This flowchart from the Office of the Registrar of Lobbyists, BC will be useful to help you determine this.

More information about the implications of advocating versus lobbying is provided on boardvoice.ca.

Actions Taken and Progress Made

Survey (2015/2016)

Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) filled out 141 Communication Matters surveys about publicly funded SLP service delivery for preschool-age children (December, 2015).

  • The Survey Summary provided a strong foundation for speaking notes when:
    • Communication Matters representatives spoke with Carole James (current Minister of Finance and current Deputy Premier) in 2016.

Public Consultations (2017)

SLPs, parents, caregivers and others filled out at least  26 of the 666 online surveys submitted to the Select Standing Committee in 2017, giving voice to our hope for increased service for preschool-age children.

At least 12 of the 292 written submissions to the 2017 public consultations advocated for increased SLP services for preschool-age children.

Approximately 6 of 187 oral presentations to the 2017 public consultations advocated for increased SLP services for preschool-age children.

  • Your actions and the message you sent were strongly reflected in the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services’ Report on the Budget 2018 Consultation. The need for increased SLP services for preschool-age children was noted under two themes (Health Care and Social Services):
    • Health Care Recommendation #20:
      • Prioritize and increase funding for speech-language pathology services for children to address the urgent need for access to timely and effective services, and to ensure an appropriate number of speech-language pathologists are available to assist young children prior to starting kindergarten, and
    • Social Services Recommendation #37:
      • Increase access to early childhood identification and intervention services, including occupational therapy, physiotherapy and speech and language pathology, with a focus on addressing urgent recruitment and retention challenges of professionals in this sector.

Letters Immediately Prior to Budget Release (January 2018)

Some SLPs wrote letters directly to Carole James, Minister of Finance and Deputy Premier, immediately prior to the release of the 2018 budget to highlight the relevant recommendations from the Report on the Budget 2018 Consultation and to reiterate the request for increased SLP services for preschool-age children. 

After the BC government sifted through all the recommendations listed in the Report on the Budget 2018 Consultation, the request for increased SLP services for preschool-age children was only minimally reflected in the actual Budget 2018. In this budget, early intervention services were given additional funding; however, SLP services were not identified separately.

As small as these steps may seem, this progress was an unexpected success for our first year!

In planning for our Call to Action 2017, we had been told by many advisors to expect to advocate for several years before our message would be reflected in the Budget recommendations. Together, we accomplished this in our first year!

Now we want to continue the push to increase SLP services for preschool-age children in BC. If you’re interested in more information about how you can participate, click here.

 

Suggested Letter Template

The Minister of Finance will be announcing the 2018 Budget in February. This provides the public with another chance to highlight the important need for additional funding for speech-language therapy services for young children in BC, so that the recommendations from the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services’ Report on the Budget 2018 Consultation make it into the 2018 Budget.

Below is a suggested letter template that you can copy and paste to send to Carole James, the Minister of Finance and Deputy Premier. Use the entire letter below if you plan to send a hard copy letter. Or, if you plan to send an email, you can start copying at “Dear Minister James…” and send to FIN.Minister@gov.bc.ca.

Anything that is bold and inside square parentheses is meant to be deleted so that you can add your personal details. Please modify the following letter as much or as little as you like. If you would like to write your own letter from scratch, that is great!

If you have difficulties copying and pasting from this site, you can download and customize this Microsoft Word (.docx) file, Budget 2018 Letter.


[If sending a hard copy letter,
your address here]

[Date]

Honourable Carole James
Minister of Finance and Deputy Premier
Room 153 Parliament Buildings
Victoria, British Columbia V8V 1X4

Dear Minister James:

I was [relieved/happy/excited/] to see the following recommendation in the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services’ Report on the Budget 2018 Consultation:

Recommendation #20. Prioritize and increase funding for speech-language pathology services for children to address the urgent need for access to timely and effective services, and to ensure an appropriate number of speech-language pathologists are available to assist young children prior to starting kindergarten.

I’m hoping you will incorporate the aforementioned recommendation into the 2018 Budget. This is important to me because [please add your own reason(s) here, if more than one reason we suggest using bullet points].

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

[Your name here]

Exciting News!

The Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services just released their Report on the Budget 2018 Consultation. We are thrilled to let you know that speech-language pathology (SLP) services for young children have been clearly identified as a priority in their recommendations. The importance of these services is mentioned under Themes 1 and 3.

Theme 1: Health Care

Speech-Language Pathology or Therapy

Recommendation #20. Prioritize and increase funding for speech-language pathology services for children to address the urgent need for access to timely and effective services, and to ensure an appropriate number of speech-language pathologists are available to assist young children prior to starting kindergarten.

Theme 3: Social Services

Child Care and Early Childhood Development

Recommendation #37. Increase access to early childhood identification and intervention services, including occupational therapy, physiotherapy and speech and language pathology, with a focus on addressing urgent recruitment and retention challenges of professionals in this sector.

Special thanks to all of the parents, caregivers, grandparents, concerned citizens, communication health assistants, and speech-language pathologists who took the time to share their stories and get our message to policymakers. This historic step forward would not have happened without you!

Consultations closed & Thank you

The public consultations by the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services closed yesterday evening. The Committee’s report will be released by November 15, 2017.

Thank you to everyone who participated in our 2017 Call to Action. If you haven’t already, please fill out this short poll to let us know if, and how, you participated.

Our hearts are full with gratitude to everyone who supported this initiative.

The Ask, 2017

When we started Communication Matters, an SLP Advocacy Group for Young Children, in 2014, one of the first things we did was to decide on our Vision. Since January 14, 2015, our Vision has been, “We believe it is important for all preschool-age children in British Columbia to receive the speech-language pathology services they need.” We acknowledge that this view is shared by many other speech-language pathologists (SLPs), other professionals who work with preschoolers, as well as other members of the public at large.

This year is the first time we have encouraged people to participate in the Select Standing Committee on Finance & Government Services public consultations to advocate for young children with speech-language needs. Based on feedback from our volunteers and other interested speech-language pathologists, we want to share a specific ask so that everyone can feel comfortable answering these questions and understanding what we are truly advocating for. Therefore we have provided the following as our official ask for 2017 that you can feel free to quote, use as your own ask, or modify to use as your own ask.

Our Ask for 2017 directly relates to the Communication Matters Vision:

What are we asking for?

Communication Matters, an SLP Advocacy Group for Young Children, is asking that all children in British Columbia (BC) who need speech-language pathology (SLP) support have access to timely and effective service. This means additional SLPs immediately, and a mandate to collect more data to determine the further need.

How many SLPs are needed?

Based on our province-wide survey results and population estimates, Communication Matters has estimated that funding for at least 200 additional SLPs is needed immediately. The number of additional SLPs needed is actually higher than this, but this would be a start.

Where will the SLPs come from?

Some may be recruited back from private practice, others would come as new graduates, others may move from other provinces with the appeal of working with more manageable caseloads, others may be privately contracted similar to those contracted through At-Home or Autism funding.

How would data be collected to determine exact need?

First, ensure all publicly funded SLP programs for young children in BC are using the same records management and data collection system to track demand/need (e.g., NucleusLabs, which is already in use by several Ministry of Children & Family Development funded agencies). Then, use evidence-based practice guidelines to determine the exact need. This could be accomplished by an expert working group comprised of representatives for all stakeholders.

This is a learning process for us, and it is possible that based on the outcome of the 2017 public consultations, we may need to revise our ask for 2018. Thank you to everyone who has provided us with input, including our 2015 survey respondents, and supported this initiative. This is for you!

For more information, please refer to our current call to action and key messages.