ACT News and Resources

Report on Children with Disabilities Excluded from School During COVID-19

BCEdAccess released a report highlighting the gulf between the Ministry of Education’s statements and the reality as experienced by students with disabilities: Children with Disabilities Excluded from School During COVID-19.

“BCEdAccess has released the results of its 2019/20 Exclusion Tracker. The total number of parent reports of exclusion of BC K-12 students with disabilities increased by 179% over last year, from 492 to 883.

The full report can be found here: Exclusion Tracker Report July 22, 2020

This was also covered by Global News.

Federal government passes bill to expand $600 benefit to more Canadians with Disabilities

The federal government has passed new COVID-19 financial supports for persons with disabilities, including expanding eligibliity to 1.7 million Canadians receiving:

  • A Disability Tax Credit certificate provided by the Canada Revenue Agency;
  • Canada Pension Plan disability benefit or Quebec Pension Plan disability benefit; and
  • Disability supports provided by Veterans Affairs Canada.

The supports include a $600 one-time payment.

View full details here.


More coverage

Half a million Canadians with disabilities could be excluded from newly announced financial support – CHEK

House passes bill to extend and reform wage subsidy, introduce disability benefits – CBC News

Social Thinking – Apply for a bursary by July 22 or use Autism Funding | Participate in Research | Autism in the News

Social Thinking: Emotions

Registration closes August 5th
Bursaries Available; Pre-approved for Autism Funding

Web Streaming across B.C., Alberta & Yukon
8:30am-3:30pm Pacific Time

View Details & Registration

A recording of the August 20-21 live web stream will be available for registrants to watch or rewatch from August 25th – September 8th.

For the first time, ACT is offering a presentation by Michelle Garcia Winner as a live web stream – direct from the Social Thinking studio in Santa Clara, California. This presentation is only open to ACT registrants in B.C., Alberta and the Yukon via web stream. ACT and Social Thinking have been planning this conference for over a year as a live event, but as it is not possible to bring hundreds of registrants together in-person, we are grateful that Social Thinking is able to continue this training with a web cast from Santa Clara.


Event Description

This two-day presentation explores how emotions are the undercurrent of all forms of social communication and are at the heart of personal problem solving, motivation, relationships, and life memories (episodic memory). This information applies to everyone. However, this series focuses on teaching emotions to individuals with social-emotional learning challenges who are working in the average range academically. Across the two days, discover how to teach students, clients, and patients about their emotions and build self-regulation – a timely topic for these difficult times.

Review details of the content, and schedule before registering to ensure this is a good fit for your interests. Please note that this presentation is relevant for those who work with a range of students with diverse learning needs. Autistic adults may also find it helpful. However, it is at the intermediate/advanced level and assumes some knowledge of Social Thinking methodology. If you have not attended a Social Thinking event in the past, you will find it beneficial to review the many free and fascinating resources available on the Social Thinking website.

Autism Funding

ACT’s workshops are pre-approved by MCFD – ACT can bill your registration fees directly to the Autism Funding Branch. You do not have to pay ACT in advance but you do have to follow the steps below by August 5th.

To register for an ACT workshop using your Autism Funding,

  1. Complete ACT’s Online Registration Form.
  2. Complete and submit by email to info@actcommunity.ca:
    1. MCFD’s Permission form (pdf)
    2. MCFD’s Request to Pay form (pdf)

ACT requires all three completed forms to be submitted to process your registration. For details please visit Workshop Registration Using Autism Funding.

Bursaries available for autistic adults and low-income registrants

ACT has bursary funds available for low-income registrants – these are not restricted to the autism community. Submit this bursary form to apply. Wait for a decision on your bursary application before paying! Deadline for bursary submissions is July 22 at 4:30pm. We will send a decision by July 29th.

View Details & Registration


Participate in Research

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As part of ACT’s continuing commitment to research, below is a list of university-affiliated research projects which have been submitted to ACT. We hope that parents, autistic individuals and community professionals will find an interesting project to engage in, to ensure that research is informed by those who have lived experience.

Researchers are invited to submit your research project using this online form. Submission may take up to one week to post.

Recently added research projects:

  • Life beyond Trauma: 1-on-1 e-health program for parents of neurodiverse children
  • Measuring Sound Sensitivity Study – Online
  • Canadian Parents’/Guardians’ Perspectives about the Impact of COVID-19 School Closures on Students Special Educational Needs
  • Research Opportunity for Parents Who Completed PEERS

View Research Projects


Autism in the News


ACT’s Facebook Page is a great source for trustworthy information from the realms of politics, research and practical support, as well as the weird and wonderful. We now have 8,000 followers across the world. 

Mayday: Neurodiversity Now!Mayday: Neurodiversity Now!

Many of you are familiar with the wonderful Mayday Club Youth Choir for Neurodiversity. But did you know that Mayday has branched out to radio? Nicole Provost and other young people on the spectrum have started a radio show on Vancouver Coop Radio (100.5FM) called “Mayday: Neurodiversity Now!” They talk on the air about inclusion and other topics that affect them. The program airs on Tuesday mornings at 10 AM, but is also available for download from Spotify or Anchor. Enjoy!

Plan on five-day school week in fall for K-7, education minister says – Vancouver Sun

Province admits harm in multimillion-dollar settlement with more than 100 victims of B.C. social worker – CBC News

Eye ‘jumps’ in autistic people may be especially fleeting – Spectrum News

Winnipeg woman beaten by 16-year-old son with autism says she can no longer care for him – CBC News

Netflix To Debut Autism Dating Show – Disability Scoop

Young, Black, autistic and imprisoned: Matthew Rushin’s story is sadly not unique – Salon

‘I can definitely speak for myself’: Canadian interview series raises awareness about disabled community – CBC Radio
View ACT’s News on Facebook

MCFD extends limited pandemic support

MCFD’s June 22nd press release announced its limited pandemic supports for families will continue through the summer. View the full press release.

How many ‘new families’ will benefit?

It is unclear how many new families will benefit from this announcement – whether the 1,300 families who received $225 a month from the Emergency Relief Fund as of April, will still receive it after July 1st when the next round of funding begins. The release refers to doubling but does not specify how much MCFD is investing in this new initiative. MCFD has specified that 30,000 children are eligible for emergency respite funding, depending on their level of need and have left it to social workers to decide.

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Katrine Conroy, Minister of Children and Family Development

Minister Conroy’s emergency response focuses on a new service delivery framework

On June 23, 2020, Minister Katrine Conroy, in a CBC interview defended MCFD’s much criticized emergency response record. Many families are reporting to the media and to their MLA’s that they feel desperate and abandoned by government. See ACT’s Community Feedback – Responses from Families.

The Minister defended the lack of emergency funding for respite supports for all families of children with special needs in crisis, by focusing on MCFD’s plan for a new MCFD service delivery framework – which will not be released until 2021.

Unlike other ministers, both provincial and federal, Minister Conroy does not differentiate between the requirement of government to provide emergency support and the long-term issues of policy development. If those responsible for the extended care sector in B.C. had decided to provide a limited emergency response to only 10 per cent of COVID-19 infected care homes for only three months, while they overhauled long-term policy, it would have been a catastrophe.

No New Money – will clawing back autism funding pay for emergency respite?

A common thread that is running through MCFD’s response is that there appears to be no new money for this huge ministry tasked with protecting the most vulnerable children in the province. The current emergency provisions give families more flexibility in spending the existing limited funding envelopes that they already have, but no new money is being pumped into MCFD. The money that MCFD is clawing back in unused Autism Funding that families can’t spend on therapy could pay for this limited respite many times over.

Details of the June 22 Announcement

Emergency Relief Fund “Final Round” – July 1 to September 30, 2020

This “final round” of the short-term Emergency Relief Support fund, which provides payments of $225 per month for three months to eligible families, will be made available from July 1 to September 30, 2020. Children/youth who are eligible for the Autism Funding Program and the At Home Program medical benefits are eligible for this funding if approved for MCFD CYSN services prior to June 15, 2020. It has not been made clear if families who previously received these payments will be eligible for the second round of support.

When first announced in their April 8th press release, the Emergency Relief Fund consisted of $900,000. The MCFD has not announced what the funding envelope is for this “doubling” of emergency support.

Autism Funding extension still limited

The limited autism funding extension for children turning 6 or 19 has been extended to include children whose 6th or 19th birthday falls between March 15, 2020 and August 31, 2020. These families will be allowed three additional months to use unspent funding. The continued refusal of MCFD to extend contracts for all, because of the disruption to therapy triggered by COVID-19, has infuriated families. Nearly 8,000 signatures have been added to the petition calling on MCFD to reverse its decision. The primary request is that MCFD allow all families of children with autism to have more time to spend their treatment funding, given COVID-19 has shut down most therapy services.

ACT’s advocacy efforts will continue

ACT continues to call on Minister Katrine Conroy and Premier John Horgan to provide clear, compassionate and rapid support measures to families desperately trying to care for their vulnerable children. We urge families and the professionals who support them to let them know that this is not the time to focus on balancing government budgets at the expense of the most vulnerable. To read the letters from families that ACT has been copied on, see Community Feedback on COVID-19.

It is worth acknowledging that the pressure that families are bringing to bear on the provincial government through their advocacy efforts are having an effect. Families and professionals should continue to contact the provincial government. The letters we are receiving from across the province make very real the confusion and distress of families supporting children with special needs. In contrast, the Ministry of Social Development and Community Living BC have done a much better job of being compassionate and transparent.

Share your advocacy efforts with the special needs community

We invite the special needs community, including professionals, to share your feedback on ACT’s Facebook Page or by email to info@actcommunity.ca if they wish to remain anonymous. We have especially appreciated the insights of Children and Youth with Special Needs Social Workers and we would like to hear from school district staff who are taking the initiative to provide in school support.

Financial Aid for People with Disabilities Delayed in Parliamentary Dispute

On June 5th, the Government of Canada announced it would be providing a special one-time payment of $600 to individuals who, as of June 1, 2020, are certificate holders of the Disability Tax Credit.  The payment was to be provided without an application or attestation and was to be non-taxable. View details of this announcement.

Unfortunately, the House of Commons is locked in a disagreement about passing other components of Bill C-17, which includes this measure. Include-Me.ca has set up a web page with a simple process to write to your MP and  share your opinion of the delay in passing this legislation. 

To keep up with the latest announcements on this issue, follow ACT’s Facebook page.

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