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AG finds 50 per cent increase to wait lists for residential services

TORONTO, ON – Improvements to services for people with developmental disabilities in Ontario are coming too slowly and too chaotically to help those with the greatest need, according to yesterday’s annual report from Ontario’s auditor general, and her findings reflect the direct experience of frontline developmental service workers represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).

The report found that, despite increased funding in the last budget for developmental services, wait lists for residential services, standards of care and availability of services have not improved appreciably – failures that CUPE attributes to the Wynne government’s reluctance to make its greatest investment in full, non-profit and community-based supports and services for people with developmental disabilities.

“The auditor general’s report calls out the government on its failure to make any real progress in cutting wait lists for residential services. Already carrying the names of 14,300 adults, those lists are immense and are not being effectively tackled by the government’s current approach,” said Joanne Smithers, a frontline developmental services worker and member of CUPE’s Developmental Service Workers Coordinating Committee.

Among the report’s findings:

  • a lack of consistency in prioritizing applicants for developmental services: the applicant who matches the existing available place gets served first, resulting in those with higher needs tending to have to wait longer for a placement;
  • crisis placements last longer because there are no permanent spaces available in the system;
  • wait list data show that, between 2009-10 and 2013-14, the number of people across the province waiting for adult residential services increased 50%, from 9,500 to 14,300. Of these, 6,900 were waiting for group homes, followed by 5,000 waiting for supportive independent living; at this rate, it could take 22 years to place everyone now on a wait list.

Smithers gave her full support for the establishment of benchmarks in developmental services for such standards of care, particularly staff-to-resident ratios and basic health care needs of supported individuals.

“However, we would like to see these ratios mandated as standards of care, rather than merely as ‘points of reference,’ as the Ministry of Community and Social Services would prefer,” said Smithers. “A standardized staff-to-resident ratio is one of the rights that people with developmental services must have if they are going to live with dignity.”

For more information, contact:

Joanne Smithers
CUPE Developmental Service Workers Coordinating Committee
 519-820-5945

Andrew Hunter
CUPE Social Services Coordinator
 519-496-5314

Mary Unan
CUPE Communications
905-739-3999 ext. 240 or 647-390-9839