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 Glengarry 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.
In February of 2008, knowing that her daughter Kimberly would be out of high school in 2010, Evelyne Simons started the process to get Kimberly on the waiting list for day supports. “I knew Kimberly would need services. Three years later, we are still waiting. This can’t continue. The province has to do better on funding so community supports can be made available by agencies for people like my daughter,” said Simons who has had to reduce her work hours by using up her vacation time on a weekly basis in order to care for Kimberly because there are no day programs available in the area.
Based on the current level of provincial funding, “we are at full capacity as an agency. We can’t address the needs of families in our community without compromising the quality of existing supports services. A significant influx of funding from the province would at least stabilize the existing services and maintain the workforce” said Danielle Duranceau,executive director of Community Living Glengarry.
In the counties of North and South Glengarry, there are approximately 30 to 40 people on a waiting list. In the counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry – collaborative access process to services – there are currently 215 people waiting for residential supports and 242 adults waiting for day supports. “We have great staffing who would love to support these persons. Unfortunately, because of insufficient funding, it is impossible for us to deliver adequate services to these persons in need,” said Danielle Duranceau.
Provincial underfunding for services not only results in long waitlists for supports, but also the low funding levels affect the consistency and quality of existing supports in profound ways, said Connie Hurtubise, a direct support staff at the agency.
Simons, Duranceau and Hurtubise stressed that shortfalls in provincial funding create instability in the sector in a number of ways. Persons with a developmental disability generally do better when they have consistent, quality supports. “When there is no consistency of supports – including, with consistent staffing – the progress made is often lost. Less than adequate provincial funding affects agencies’ ability to recruit and keep developmental services workers,” said Hurtubise.
Without adequate funding to maintain quality programs, retain skilled staff, and increase access to services, “the waitlists will continue to grow,” added Hurtubise. “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:
Executive Director, Community Living Glengarry
Outcomes Support Facilitator