Speech and Hearing BC Voice at Budget 2020 Consultations

Finance Committee Budget Report and Recommendations Support Speech and Hearing BC Testimony

This week, the B.C. Standing Committee on Finance issued its Report on the Budget 2020 Consultation, which included a list of recommendations to the government of British Columbia as it develops its forthcoming budget. The committee heard from hundreds of stakeholders across the province and carefully considered which priorities it would like to recommend the government take action on.

Speech and Hearing BC is pleased to share that it has been extensively engaged in the budget consultation process, leading to an appearance and outline of key requests by the association to committee members. The committee’s report makes several references to our requests and also includes two recommendations to government in light of our engagement.

Among the report’s analysis and findings:

“Speech and Hearing BC explained that over 10 percent of British Columbians experience some form of hearing loss; however, less than 25 percent of these individuals seek assistance, largely due to prohibitive cost barriers. They advocated for funding for hearing aids and assistive listening devices.”

“Speech and Hearing BC reported high caseloads for speech-language pathologists as contributing to long waitlists, especially for early intervention services. They estimated that BC requires a significant increase in the number of full-time speech-language pathologists, from 165 to 552, to improve access to services.”

“Speech and Hearing BC…noted that a lack of funding for early intervention services creates long waits for children and families trying to access therapies such as speech-language therapy, occupational therapy and physiotherapy. They emphasized that early intervention is critical to success, and that funding should be increased to ensure children do not age out before receiving support.”

“Speech and Hearing BC noted that BC has the second-lowest number of speech-language pathologists per capita of all provinces and recommended immediately adding 175 full-time speech-language pathologists to address this gap.”

Among the report’s recommendations to the government:

“Ensure operational and program funding to post-secondary institutions positions the province to respond to immediate and projected gaps in the labour market, including ensuring local training opportunities and reducing barriers for underrepresented groups; sectors to address include: agriculture, forestry, science, technology, engineering, mathematics, trades, digital media and film, early childhood education, aerospace, physiotherapy, speech-language therapy, laboratory science, and occupational therapy.”

“Increase funding for all early intervention services to ensure timely access to critical services, such as speech-language therapy, occupational therapy and physiotherapy, and to ensure children do not age out of early intervention services before receiving critical support.”

Speech and Hearing BC will continue to work with the government in moving these important issues forward in order to better meet the needs of all British Columbians. We appreciate that the committee heard our concerns and is supporting our overall advocacy efforts to move the government towards taking action.