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Crisis in care for people with developmental disabilities in Guelph Wellington Agencies, staff doing “all we can to support families’ needs—province must do the same”

GUELPH ON– Provincial funding following last month’s Ontario budget for supports and services for people with developmental disabilities is welcome, but it’s not enough to ensure existing programs are stabilized and the needs of families on waitlists are met, said advocates for quality community supports at a media conference in Guelph today.

For several years, the province has asked agencies that support individuals with a developmental disability to do more with little new funding investment in the sector. In 2008/09, the province required that supports and services delivered by the sector be increased without providing any new funding. In 2010, over $20 million in funding the province had committed to community living agency base budgets was, instead, redirected to pay for changes required under new provincial legislation.

Across the province, there are 23,000 people with a developmental disability languishing on waitlists for services – 12,000 of those are waiting for residential supports.

Jane Keating, who now cares for her sister, Linda, who has Down Syndrome and early onset dementia since her aging mother is no longer able, is anxious about the future. Linda lives in a Community Living Guelph Wellington (CLGW) run group home. But, as Linda and others in her group home age and their needs become more complex, Keating worries that provincial underfunding will affect CLGW’s ability to hire adequately skilled staff. “The province has to do better on funding so community supports can be made available by agencies like Community Living Guelph Wellington for people like my sister and our family,” said Keating.

Bob Butella, CLGW executive director, said that the agency currently receives the second lowest level of provincial funding in the area. As a result, there are currently 390 people on the waitlist for services. This includes 109 people in need of day, vocational, or supported employment programs. Of the 390 waiting for services, 149 require full residential group home support. Better funding, said Butella, is needed to maintain existing services, while expanding access for people like Linda. CLGW currently provides supports for 430 individuals.

Shortfalls in provincial funding create instability in the sector in a number of ways, said Joanne Smithers, direct support staff at the agency. “Persons with a developmental disability generally do better when they have consistent, quality supports. Without consistent staffing, the progress made by individuals is often lost. Less than adequate provincial funding affects agencies’ ability to keep skilled developmental services workers and to recruit new staff.”

Without adequate funding to maintain quality programs, retain skilled staff, and increase access to services, “the waitlists will continue to grow,” said Judy Overland, whose 45-year-old son, Paul, lives in a group home. “We are the lucky ones who get services. But, for many families, the reality is that they languish on waitlists for years. We have a crisis in care. This will only deepen as parents age, and their aging children develop more complex conditions, and they can no longer take care of their loved one themselves.”

For more information, please contact:


Bob Butella
Executive Director, Community Living Guelph Wellington       
519 824-2480 Ext. 222

Jane Keating 
Advocate for quality services

Judy Overland
Parent and local advocate for quality services

Joanne Smithers 
Community Living Community Living Guelph Wellington

Stella Yeadon 
CUPE Communications