Standing with the Autism Community

We need to stand up for families in the autism community.

The NDP recently decided to end individualized direct funding for children with autism spectrum disorder by 2025, a move which would take BC backward relative to other provinces. They did so with virtually no consultation with a huge number of people and families who will be affected.

The NDP say there’s a better system coming, but they’ve left countless families in the dark, wondering what’s next and whether their ability to decide on care for their own children will be taken away and replaced with government bureaucracy.

That devastating uncertainty is the last thing parents need on top of the extra stress and strain of the ongoing pandemic.

Our BC Liberal caucus has been standing up for families and pushing back hard on this decision, and I’m proud of the great work they are doing. I’m a strong advocate for childcare choice in the face of the NDP’s bureaucratic big government takeover, and equally I believe that parents should be able to decide on care for their children on the autism spectrum.

I’m no expert on autism, but I’m fortunate to have a very close advisor: my incredible wife Erin Shum.

In addition to her experience as a small business owner, Erin spent ten years working with children on the autism spectrum, both with the Burnaby School District and with individual families. She also served on the board of the Learning Disabilities Association of Vancouver.

In 2014, she was elected to the Vancouver Park Board, which oversees all of Vancouver’s 200 parks and dozens of community centres. We actually met on the campaign trail. I’m a pretty good campaigner, but she’s way better than me!

As a Park Board Commissioner, Erin stood up for families and seniors and pushed back on fee hikes and ridiculous policies. It was not always easy for her to be a young woman in politics, and supporting her through some very tough times certainly shaped my approach to political culture. Building the right team culture was the first thing we talked about as we planned my leadership campaign.

One of the things I’m absolutely proudest of is Erin’s leadership in making the Vancouver Park Board the first municipal agency in BC to create a training program on autism for staff and implement a job-creation program for people with autism.

When I become leader of this party, members will get a two-for-one deal with Erin. And families in the autism community will get an unrelenting champion who won’t let the NDP push them around.

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