Dyslexia BC calls on province to reassess BC Budget plans

Dyslexia BC responded to the province’s 2024 budget plan saying it does not cover enough student screenings.

Cathy McMillan, founding member of Dyslexia BC said, in a letter, that the budget’s annual plan of assisting students covers only six per cent of the population.

The budget currently pledges $30 million over three years to aid children with learning difficulties, including dyslexia, for screening over 150,000 students from kindergarten to Grade 3 and to provide “new literacy” supports to about 9,000 students annually.

While Dyslexia BC appreciates this funding, McMillan says she’s “cautiously hopeful.”

“Considering dyslexia’s prevalence in roughly 20 per cent of the population, the plan to assist 9,000 students annually (merely six per cent of the 150,000 to be tested) seems insufficient,” she said.

McMillan says the budget’s proposed plan lacks adequate input from the right stakeholders.

“The development process lacked adequate input from parents, caregivers, and the dyslexic community, with a concerning emphasis on consultation with private businesses,” she said.

She is raising questions about whether the province is truly addressing the needs of dyslexic students.

“The possibility of relying on privatized external outreach teams may not suffice for the systemic long-term reform required within B.C. schools,” she said.

Dyslexia BC is calling on the MInistry of Education to consult the right people to refine and improve its strategies and clarify the implementation process.

The letter demands reassessment of “the budget and strategy to ensure comprehensive support for students with severe dyslexia” in order to include screenings as early as possible.

The organization wants the province to integrate specialists, remedial centers, and structured literacy programs within all school districts to encourage systemic changes.

McMillan, in her letter, says that the National Institute of Health states “it is most effective to address reading difficulties in children during kindergarten and first grade,” and with early intervention “95 per cent of poor readers can reach grade level, yet from the numbers that were given in the budget, it suggests that only 6 per cent of students will be reached by the “new literacy initiative.”

The organization wants a long term plan to reform the system.

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