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53 adults in Fort Frances area without supports and services — 2011 provincial funding not enough to meet needs of “our most vulnerable”

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 Fort Frances today. 

For several years now, 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. In the Fort Frances area, there are currently 53 adults waiting for supports. Of those, nine families need 24/7 support and there are 44 individuals on the waitlist requiring day programs and supported independent living supports. 

Parents and family members are at the age when they can no longer care for their loved one at home. “Older parents are desperate to know that their child will be cared for when they are gone. They are losing all hope. Under the current level of funding, there is no opportunity for anyone to get 24/7 support and get off the waitlist unless there is a vacancy,” said Community Living Fort Frances and District Executive Director Alanna Barr.  The reality is the wait to access 24/7 supports will be a very long one. 

Even based on the most optimistic 2011 funding allocation projection, Community Living Fort Frances and District will not be able to provide supports to anyone with high needs currently on the waitlist. 

Barr and Allan Dustak, an outcomes support facilitator with the agency, called on the provincial Liberals “to meet the needs of our most vulnerable by improving funding for the sector now. Families are frustrated and do not understand why their family members cannot access the supports needed.” 

Spreading already thin resources to address the unmet needs of those on waitlists will mean a significant reduction in the quality and quantity of supports provided. The capacity of agencies to continue to provide high quality supports without significant new investment is tapped out, said Dustak. 

Without adequate funding to maintain quality programs, retain skilled staff, and increase access to services, “the waitlists will continue to grow,” added Dustak. “We have a crisis in care. Front line workers and agencies are doing all we can to support families’ needs—the province must do the same.” 

For more information, please contact: 

Alanna J. Barr
Executive Director, Community Living Fort Frances and District
(807) 274-5556

Allan Dustak
Outcomes Support Facilitator
(807) 274-7618

Stella Yeadon
CUPE Communications
(416) 559-9300