'People not aware of what's happening, the
implications,' mother of autistic son says
Brad Badelt, (June 18, 2005). Vancouver Sun,
p. B1 & 4.
An independent authority will take over responsi-
bility for providing disability services across BC
from the provincial government in early July, but
parents of disabled children say they have been
left in the dark about the changes.
The transfer of services to Community Living BC
(CLBC), a Crown agency with government-appoint-
ed directors, marks a major step in the govern-
ment's long-standing plan to decentralize the
Ministry of Children and Family Development.
CLBC chair Lois Hollstedt said the official hand-off
is expected July 1st. "There is a letter that will be
going out to all the people we serve," Hollstedt
said. "To make certain people are fully aware of
But Dawn Steele, who has a 12-year-old son with
autism, said she is frustrated by the lack of
consultation. "The first issue, in my eyes, is this
is all going to happen July 1 and there's been no
public announcement, or discussion," Steele said.
"People are not aware of what's happening and
Barb Laird's daughter has Down Syndrome, but
she said she has not received any formal notifi-
cation about the changes. "I've heard it's happen-
ing," said Laird, who receives an electronic news-
letter from CLBC every month. But she didn't
know it was going to be July 1, and she is worried
about how it will work.
(Continued: New agency will control $600 million
The transition will move $600 million in funding -
provided to about 15,000 individuals and families
across the province - to the authority of CLBC.
"The great motivations to move outside of govern-
ment are more flexibility, more independence from
government and more ability to really put the person
to be served in the centre, rather than the system,"
Hollstedt said Friday.
The province has been planning to overhaul the ministry
since early 2002, but has been delayed several times,
most notably with the resignation of former restructuring
coordinator Peter Wall (should be Doug) amid allegations
of scandal in early 2004.
One change expected within the next two years is indivi-
dual funding, which Hollstedt said would allow individuals
or families to shop for their own services rather than rely
strictly on those provided by government.
The new funding mechanism, which will be voluntary,
would also make it easier for disabled people to move from
one region to another, Hollstedt. "One of the biggest com-
plaints about the current system is you can't take your
money across regional boundaries. You can't even take it
from city to city," she said.
But Steele is worried about whether CLBC - formed on an
interim basis in late 2002 - has enough experience to
provide such widespread services.
"They're saying they're going to increasingly rely on comm-
unities and families to provide the needed support," Steele
said. "That basically assumes that there is capacity in the
community and among families to do more than they're
doing now. It's an insult."
Laird, who likes the idea of being able to choose services for
her daughter, said she is concerned about where the money
will come from, particularly with a growing population of
"I'm hopeful with CLBC I'm going to have more of a say as
to what my daughter's going to have [for services]," Laird
said, "because what's out there [right now] isn't necessarily
what I want for her."
The bottom line that people really don't want to hear is
that this entire process to devolve Community Living
Services is tarnished and flawed due to the fiscally driven
motivations and influence of Doug Walls. Despite the input
of many, one has only to read the reports from the initial
phases of the plan to realize that anything that Mr. Walls
was part of must be suspect.
The PriceWaterhouseCooper audit is really clear in stating
that Mr. Walls was able to insinuate himself into the Interim
Authority and the Community Living Transition Steering
Committee, as the driving force and chief architect to the
plan that has seen many leaders come and go, in efforts to
meet dangerous, poorly conceived deadlines and plans.
Mr. Walls was reported to have obtained a number of unten-
dered contracts under different business names from the
BC Liberals. He got money for nothing at the expense of
children, youth and families that needed it AND he got
to design the new system that will serve them.
Okay, strike 1, Ms. Hollstedt. The fact that the parents of
those receiving supports and services through MCFD have
not even been informed about the impending "devolution"
of the services they are no doubt quite in need of for their
children, speaks volumes about who will really be at the
"centre" of this service delivery system.
funded(some with untendered government and foundation
contracts) for any mention, update, sneak peak at the news
of the rapidly approaching devolution and have found not a
bit of news. This really speaks to the climate of communication,
collaboration and oversight that can be expected of an organi-
zation that has political appointees on it's Board of Directors
and the people they will appoint to sit on the regional micro-
The Community Living BC Business Plan 2005 was
only just released this month. Considering the subtitle “Building
the Foundation for the Future” it seems a little late to
release this document only two weeks before the most significant
and risky change and service re-organization in the area of
services and supports to developmentally disabled and special
needs children, youth and adults in a decade.
Having conducted a lot of research over the last while about
the history, background and process for the devolution of
CLS to CLBC, I’ve discovered that there are no less than at
least eight (8) consultation reports about the readiness of
CLBC to devolve (see below for references). Most point out
significant problems related to funding for devolution and
infrastructure development, organizational capacity, potential
for ongoing funding problems and concerns about possible
cuts to service in communities as a result of expected budget
shortfalls, and readiness and stability of leadership.
Now, to be certain, this ethos for community governance,
whether that is at federal and provincial levels, signals just
how much new public management is all the rage to the policy
hacks. I'm not necessarily opposed to it, but I'm not observing
the best examples of the execution of it all. Fundamentally,
I'm observing the rapid, ill-conceived plans for service re-design,
transformation and the ensuing consequences put far too many
at-risk due to the failure of the social safety net to catch them.
Advocate for Service Quality
The BC Coalition of People with Disabilities
BC FamilyNet, (June 18, 2005). Letter to Premier Campbell.
BC Government and Employee Union, (May 30, 2005).
Memorandum of Agreement reached on employees
transferring from government to Community Living
Boyd, B., (May, 2004). Devolution of Services to Community
Living BC:Updated Assessment of Readiness.
CBC News, (May 12 2004). Bad management, but no fraud in Walls
CBC News, (2004, January 23). Hogg resigns over audit.
CBC News (2004, January 19). RCMP recommended charges in
car dealership case.
CBC News, (2004 May 12). Report on Doug Walls due Wednesday.
CBC News, (2004, Mar. 4). Shake-up at Community Living B.C.
Ministry of Children & Family Development.
Chronology of Events:Transition to Community
Governance for Community Living Services.
BC Association for Community Living.
Community Living Coalition
Community Living Society
Milowsky, Fred, (September 30, 2004). An Operational
Examination of the Community Living Service Delivery
Minister of Finance, (May 6, 2004). Auditor’s Investigation
of CareNet Technology Society and the Provincial
Government's Dealing with Douglas F. Walls.
Sage Group Management Consultants, (Sept. 24, 2003).
New Governance - Some Considerations.