Tuesday, August 16, 2011

CLBC service cuts hurt most vulnerable

It's understandable that Social Development Minister Harry Bloy is ashamed of cruel cuts to services for some of B.C.'s most vulnerable citizens.

But his refusal to acknowledge the reality and his flat-out false statements are insulting to people with developmental disabilities and their often exhausted and frightened families.

"Developmental disabilities" is a clunky term. Many of the adults supported by Bloy's ministry are what we once called mentally handicapped. Some have severe autism or fetal alcohol syndrome; many have major physical and mental health problems as well. Some need round-the-clock medical care and constant supervision for their own safety, and the safety of others.

Much of that care has been provided through group homes. To save money, the government has been closing group homes and pushing people into cheaper arrangements.

And, based on the evidence, the government and Community Living B.C. know this is wrong. Bloy has insisted no people have been forced to move against their will and families have been consulted. Families say both claims are false.

Connie and Ken Greenway told Times Colonist reporter Lindsay Kines they were given little warning and no say in a decision to close the group home where their 46-year-old disabled son Darrin has lived for 15 years.

CLBC, the Crown corporation created by the government to provide services to the developmentally disabled, wanted the company operating the group home to sign a new contract with a deep funding cut. The company refused.

So the home will close and residents will be forced to move.

Remember, we are talking about fragile, vulnerable people with serious problems and great difficulty in dealing with change. Many, like Darrin, have spent years in the same home. It is, for them, like being ripped from family and sent into the unknown.

For their families, the changes bring a whole new set of fears. All parents fret about their children's future. But the fears are much more real as aging parents confront the reality that their vulnerable children will continue to be at risk after they die or are incapable of providing support and advocacy.

The closures aren't isolated. Community Living B.C. closed more than 40 group homes last year, forcing the residents to move and - often - reducing they support they received.

And the closures are not driven by revelations of waste, or innovations in support.

This is about cutting costs. The government has chosen not to put these families first.

According to CLBC, the amount of funding per client has fallen every year since it was created by the Liberals six years ago, under Christy Clark's watch as children's minister.

In 2006-07, the first full year of operation, funding provided an average $51,154 per client. This year, funding will be $45,306. And by 2013, according to the government projections, it will be cut to $41,225 per client.

If you factor in inflation, by 2013 the funding available for each client will be 30 per cent less than it was in 2006.

The effect of the cost-cutting goes far beyond group home closures. People who have, with extensive support, lived full and rich lives are seeing that ripped away, condemned to spend their days alone in a room.

And parents whose children are turning 19 face a special nightmare. Services for developmentally disabled youth are provided by the Ministry of Children and Families. Strong school programs offer opportunities.

On the day clients turn 19, those supports are ripped away. CLBC assumes responsibility, and parents find their children's lives are dramatically worse. Programs are unavailable, waiting lists are long and growing. Even when CLBC's own assessments say supports are needed for safety reasons, help is not provided.

This is not a case of families or interest groups demanding more, or better, support and care.

They just want the levels that have been in place for years to be maintained.

They want assurances that an adult child, unable to fend for herself, will not be put in danger, or forced to live a needlessly diminished life.

But the government, on your behalf, has decided it costs too much to continue helping vulnerable people live life fully.


Anonymous said...

The new reality for those most in need of a compassionate government is frightening. Reducing costs for the most vulnerable in our society is not even close to the much hyped "family first" of the despicable (in all regards) Liberal mob. I wish more than those directly affected were aware of these goings on. Thanks for reporting the truth and not the Liberal spin.

Anonymous said...

It made me absolutely sick to see Harry Bloy stand up in the house and outright lie about these cuts to those who most need our support.

I am left believing that Christy Clark has no respect and even less compassion for these people and their families. If she had an ounce of either someone else would be minister.

There are plenty of capable liberal MLAs on the backbench but we have Harry Bloy in charge of this crucial ministry.

Anonymous said...

I would like to see a reporter - not a journalist - do a deep dive into the life and times of CLBC CEO Rick Mowles.

Perhaps the easiest place to start would be looking at his salary history since he took up the position in 2005.

paul said...

Anon 6:23:
Salary history is set out here - http://tinyurl.com/3wj7m2c

"CEO Rick Mowles has seen a 59 per cent increase in his annual compensation over the four fiscal years from 2005-06 to 2009-10, pushing him to almost $231,000. Doug Woollard, vice-president of operations and the man most often mentioned in stories about more service cuts at CLBC, has seen his compensation climb 57 per cent in that same period, to almost $176,000."

DPL said...

He ranks right up there will Kreuger in th4e dumb and stupid list. But the pay keeps coming in so telling fibs goes with the job

Anonymous said...

I agree that the media should be confronting CEO Rick Mowles to see if he would like a "cut" to his $230,000. salary last year and the 24 managers under him who made over six figures last year.......why is he so protected?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the salary link PW.

Reviewing the information shows that for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2010 the info [.pdf] was created on 7/9/2010. Mowles = $230,804, Woollard = $175,736 (note: shows Mowles as 2008/09 = $231,811, 2007/08 = $225,194 and Woollard as 2008/09 = $169,283, 2007/08 = $166,602)

For the fiscal year ending March 31, 2009 the info [.pdf] was created on 10/2/2009. Mowles = $225,194, Woollard = $166,602 (note: Mowles and Woollard received exactly the same total compansation as they had in the previous year - as did at least two other CLBC exeutives)

For the fiscal year ending March 31, 2008 the info [.pdf] was created on 7/18/2008. Mowles = $225,194, Woollard = $166,602

For the twelve months ended March 31, 2007 the info [.pdf] was created on 10/12/2007. Mowles = $207,493.16, Woollard = $148,428.74

For the nine months ended March 31, 2006 the info [.pdf] was also created on 10/12/2007. Mowles = $108,851.42 (note: Mowles started with CLBC in August 2005, so one could assume this is prorated to an annual salary), Woollard = $84,819.89 (assumed to also be prorated to an annual salary)

I've included the dates the documents were created to show the disconnect between what the legislation requires on disclosure and CLBC's 'We'll do what we want, when we want' attitude.

Anonymous said...

This Mowles Woollard and overall management salary thing is a silly side debate that disracts people from focusing on the real issue. Mowles and Woollard do what they are told to do. The government wants to cut the unit cost of CLBC. Mowles and Woollard deliver.
The real issue here is the lack of commitment by government to help vulnerable people. Mean spirit. That is the issue.

Anonymous said...

There are reasons why it's important to shine a light on these corporate salaries. CLBC executives and facilitators claim sympathy for the disabled and their families. They earn huge salaries while cutting funding to some of the most vulnerable in our midst. Does that seem reasonable to you? At least they shouldn't pretend to care about the disabled. An informed person will see through this pretence.

Anonymous said...

@9:53 AM - "Mowles and Woollard do what they are told to do."

With Mowles it is pure ideological: he really hates Unions, and he blindly believes in "community living" where persons with disabilities live with random people in 'the community' regardless of consequence.

With Social Development Minister Harry Bloy in charge; it is the blind being lead by the blinkered.

Anonymous said...

What can we do to stop all these group homes being closed? Is there anything we can do? HELP!!!

e.a.f. said...

The lieberals will continue closing group homes as long as they are in power. They don't care who dies, who suffers.

The CEOs continue to receive pay increases, not because of the work they do, but because they are the ones who are expected to take the flack from the public.

It was embarassing to hear one of the CEOs repeat, Community living was to provide every adult an opp. to live up to their potential. When the reporter asked how an adult with the mentality of a 2 yr. old would do this, she just repeated herself.

We can not expect change until the main stream press starts to report these things and investigate. The things we read about, such as this article, do not make it into the main stream media nor do I expect it to any time in the future.

The connection between the main stream media and the lieberal government is much too close for comfort. England has its scandals with Murdoch and company but B.C. is just as bad.

We can only hope no one dies from this assault on children and handicapped adults.

paul said...

Thanks, e.a.f.
On the mainstream media comments, I note his post did run as a column in the Victoria Times Colonist and five other daily newspapers in the province. Times Colonist reporter Lindsay Kines has also reported extensively on the issues and their effect on families.

Anonymous said...

What will happen to this ministry and the people it is supposed to protect if, Heaven forbid, the Campbell/Clark Liberals are voted into power for a forth "mandate", and their policies to date thereby endorsed? I shudder at the thought of this possibility being anything less than remote, but the reason Penner stepped down is the likelhood of a snap Fall election being called. Maybe it's because the Liberals think a win is possible,or maybe it's because the earlier the call the less Liberal blood will be spilled, in the hope they're not utterly erased from the political map. You might have guessed I'm hoping they'd be proved wrong either way, and are cast off to become nothing more than a nasty and tragic (for ordinary British Columbians) memory.

Ray Graham

Dawn Steele said...

Great synopsis of the issues, Paul!

When Christy Clark (as Minister for Children & Families) introduced the legislation that created CLBC some 7 years ago, she talked about "shared responsibility" with families. The reality has been the exact opposite of what she promised -- CLBC has been used as a convenient "arms length" vehicle to politically insulate her and her elected colleagues from the impacts of a wholesale shift in the burden of care and support onto families, who provide and fund more than 90% of the lifelong supports provided to adults with developmental disabilities.

For every conversation that focusses on Rick Mowles' salary or questions Doug Woollard's motives, the BC Premier and Cabinet ministers, who set those salaries and give the CLBC execs a budget number to cut, are able to duck accountability for their failure to govern responsibly.

Ms Clark also promised that the new CLBC would offer more choices and improve the lives of people with developmental disabilities. Instead we have seen choices reduced to the lowest/ cheapest/ riskiest options only; we're seeing people callously driven from their homes; and safety compromised. Nowhere does human dignity, compassion or quality of life factor in any longer in a harsh CLBC mandate that is totally and completely about cutting costs and saving dollars - with no regard to the horrific individual human impacts.

Christy Clark may have been out of government while most of this deterioration was happening over the last seven years. But she has been Premier for six months now, during which time she has personally received hundreds of personal letters from families, along with dozens of media stories, documenting the horrendous impacts.

Alarmed by the serious safety risks, community living partners came together in an unprecedented coalition last year. After months of research and community consultation, they presented the Premier and her minister with a report and carefully thought-out recommendations to stem the crisis back in April.

Months have passed with no response. Premier Clark's silence and failure to act in the face of the obvious speaks volumes about her sincerity. So too does the silence and failure of her fellow ruling MLAs, who have the power to dictate caucus priorities to support the Premier. I hope BC voters in general take note of this when Ms Clark and her caucus colleagues start to trot out the rosy promises and feigned compassion in an effort to win the next election.

Premier Christy Clark has the power and the fiscal mandate to solve this with the stroke of a pen. Any premier who actually cares about the wellbeing of families, and about society's responsibility to support vulnerable British Columbians when they are clearly unable to fend on their own, would have taken decisive action months ago.

RossK said...

Thank-you Ms. Steele.

I always look forward to your informed and balanced commentary on these matters.

If you don't mind, I am going to post your comment at my place also, where a number of commenters feel the need to obscure the larger issues here by arguing the minutae of the cost-savings angle.

That post and all the comments associated with it can be found here for anyone that is interested.


Anonymous said...

So did this paltry funding increase come from the goodness of someone's heart, or was it a result of the media shining a light on just "some" of clbc's dirty deeds?
Rick Mowles says that there will never be enough money to satisfy expectations. Is he speaking about his own salary or something else?
We were thinking clbc heard:
$7 million--not $70 million and they thought they were being extra generous by offering $8.9 million.