2019 Budget Consultation
Thank you to everyone for all your work in getting information to the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services. Your messages advocating for increased access to speech-language pathology services for preschool-aged children in BC were clearly reflected in their Report On The Budget 2019 Consultation in two separate recommendations (#45 and #79, see below).
When we began Communication Matters, we assumed that putting forward an ethical argument for increasing access to SLP services could influence decision makers. However, when seeking advice on how to best advocate for more funding, we were often advised that in addition to personal stories and ethics, we needed to provide:
1. Specific statistics (e.g., discrepancies between services needed and actual services provided; e.g., discrepancies between services provided in other provinces and services provided in BC), and
2. Research showing that funding used to support the preschool-aged population results in wide-reaching cost savings for the government in the long run.
It is notable that this is the type of information that committee members captured when they wrote the following summary within the Recommendations document:
Excerpt from the “Social Services-Child Care and Early Childhood Development” section (pg. 64):
Communication Matters and Speech and Hearing BC highlighted the immediate need for more full-time speech-language pathologists for preschool-age children, noting that BC has the second lowest number of speech-language pathologists per 100,000 people in Canada. Language and communication development in early years is linked to cognitive development, social skills, self-regulation and academic learning, and can affect the trajectory of a child’s lifetime. They emphasized that investments in early childhood health and development, and early intervention, saves future health, social and justice costs.
SLP Specific Budget 2019 Consultation Report Recommendations
Recommendation #45 (pg. 43):
Increase funding for ongoing, comprehensive health human resources planning and development, including the expansion of training capacity for priority professions, such as physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech language pathologists, sonographers, MRI technologists and perfusionists, as well as recruitment and retention in rural and remote areas.
Recommendation #79 (pg. 68):
Significantly increase investment in early childhood development, especially early intervention and services in Indigenous communities, including the training, recruitment and retention of pediatric therapists, such as occupational therapists, physiotherapists, speech language pathologists and behavioural therapists, as well as increased funding for autism intervention services and therapies.
We can be proud of our work but not thrilled YET. We do have to say that none of the above recommendations were reflected in the actual 2019 Budget for British Columbia, Budget and Fiscal Plan 2019/20 – 2021/22. So advocating for increased access to SLP services for preschool-aged children in BC must continue!
The members of Communication Matters continue to feel passionate about the need for increased SLP services for preschool-aged children but we will no longer be operating under the Communication Matters name.i All advocacy efforts will now be channeled through Speech and Hearing BC in order to present one unified voice in BC. We feel it is right that this advocacy should be led by our provincial association, and we look forward with great enthusiasm to see Speech and Hearing BC continue this work.
For more information or to find out how you can help, please contact the Director for Early Intervention SLP Services (contact information can be found here).
A big thank you to everyone who has supported Communication Matters over the years!
i. The Communication Matters website, email, and social media channels will no longer be actively monitored.