Times Colonist reporter Lindsay Kines has another report on the devastating cuts to services for people with developmental disabilities, this time focusing on the total lack of support when people turn 19 and Community Living BC takes over responsibility from the children's ministry.
Recommended reading here.
The problem, as I note here, is reduced per-client funding for CLBC every year since the agency was created by the Liberal government. The result has been worsening wait lists, clients forced out of group homes they have lived in for years and a dramatic reduction in the quality of life for people with disabilities.
So what does Social Development Minister Harry Bloy say about the service cuts, and the demand by advocacy groups for a $70-million funding increase to deal with what they call a crisis?
No one knows. Bloy has hidden from questions from reporters and the public, and since the legislature rarely sits he isn't held accountable there. Any day I expect to see his picture on the side of a milk carton.
Kines asked to talk to the minister for the story, as he and other reports have tried for many articles, and was refused.
Instead, communications staff write meaningless emails allegedly from Bloy.
Read the response below, which is typical, and judge for yourself whether this represents an open and accountable government able to explain and defend its decisions. If you were the parent of a disabled adult who was losing day support, or being forced from a group home, would your concerns and questions about the actions and future service reductions be addressed?
Or whether a $150,000-a-year cabinet minister simply won't even try to defend the indefensible.
"Minister Bloy sends his apologizes as he’s not available to speak to you in person. However, he has provided the following statement.
"As a parent, I understand and share the concerns of families whose loved ones have unique developmental challenges. As Minister responsible for Community Living BC, I am committed to finding solutions that best address the needs of our province’s most vulnerable citizens.
"This is not to suggest there aren’t challenges. CLBC serves over 13,600 developmentally disabled adults - 3,300 more than they did in 2007. Despite annual budget increases and an investment to date of more than $3.5 billion, the number of requests for CLBC services and supports from both new and existing individuals continues to grow. CLBC provided services for 766 new people last year, and over a thousand people already in the system got additional services.
"We are living in difficult financial times and we continue to investigate and adopt innovative solutions that will support any many families as possible. "We have always funded CLBC and will continue to fund them in the future. The care, comfort and well-being of developmentally disabled individuals and their families are, and always will be, government’s priority and my priority as Minister."