Friday, September 16, 2011

Province, CLBC failing the disabled

Here’s how bad it has become for mentally handicapped people in B.C.
Barely five months into the fiscal year, the agency that’s supposed to be providing the supports they need has had to beg government for more money to meet “urgent health and safety needs.”
The planning and funding were so inadequate that these people’s health and safety were at risk. Not their quality of life, or their parents’ ability to sleep at night knowing their children had a shot at happiness.
Their health and safety.
We are talking about people with developmental disabilities — mental handicaps like Down syndrome or other limits. Many have other serious conditions, physical, mental and emotional. Their parents are often aging themselves and facing limitations.
In a caring society, these people can have rich lives. Families can often provide support, until parents grow too old and needs too great. Day programs, group homes, supported workplaces and other options offer a way for people to share in the joys and sorrows of life.
But in this province, we’re not even meeting urgent health and safety needs, let alone providing needed support.
Community Living B.C., the Crown corporation providing services, called a press conference to announce it had found an extra $8.9 million to meet “urgent health and safety needs” of its clients. The provincial government had contributed an extra $6 million. Another $2.9 million, allocated for helping people with FASD and other problems, was redirected, because, CLBC says, the money wasn’t needed to assist those people.
The corporation actually seemed to think this was a good news story.
It wasn’t. The corporation was acknowledging that it did such a bad job in planning — or the government cut its budget proposals so significantly — that five months into the year clients had “urgent” health and safety needs it couldn’t meet.
That means serious needs that fall short of the urgent threat to life and limb are still not being met.
Even with the $8.9 million, the provincial funding for CLBC is up just 1.8 per cent. The number of clients needing services is increasing 5.1 per cent, and many costs are also rising with inflation.
The money is obviously inadequate. Advocates, including the B.C. Association for Community Living, said a $70-million increase is needed to provide proper support.
CLBC per-client funding has been cut every year since the Liberal government created the agency six years ago. In 2006/7, the first full year of operation, funding provided an average $51,154 per client. This year, funding will be $46,000. Just returning to the original level would require an extra $85 million.
CLBC has been looking, appropriately, at ways to meet people’s needs more cheaply. Clients who have been in group homes, for example, a relatively cost form of housing and support, might be able to do as well or better in other arrangements. Supported workplace programs could be chopped and developmentally disabled clients encouraged to compete in the job market.
But families and advocates have complained —with convincing evidence — that the corporation is putting the priority on cutting costs, not client needs.
This has been particularly brutal for the 550 young people who will turn 19 this year. That’s the magic age when support through the children’s ministry ends and CLBC takes over. Supports are slashed, or disappear. Even when there are serious risk of harm, people are told there is no money to deliver the services that CLBC’s case planners agree are needed. CLBC can’t, or won’t, say how many people are on waitlists.
The underlying problem is that the agency — and Harry Bloy, the hapless minister responsible — have little credibility. Both claimed repeatedly that clients were not being forced from group homes. They acknowledge now that was not true.
This is a dismal failure, at the expense of some of the most vulnerable people in the province.
Footnote: The problems are only to going to get worse. Despite an increasing number of clients in each of the next two years, the Liberal budget calls for funding to be effectively frozen and Finance Minister Kevin Falcon has been warning that even deeper cuts in government could lie ahead.


Anonymous said...

- CLBC's budget was cut by $20 million this year.
- CLBC claims the funding cuts did not lead to program and home closures.
- CLBC states that program and home closures are part of an ongoing resource reallocation strategy to better support individuals in need.
- CLBC says money wasn’t needed to assist people with FASD. (I can't believe CLBC said this. PW, please check your sources as I know for a fact that FASD targeted monies have been cut to close to zero over the last 10 years)
- CLBC restored $6 million out of $20 million [~30%] to meet “urgent health and safety needs”

- That BC Liberal Minister of Social Development Harry Bloy is "hapless" is the understatement of the year.
- CLBC is running amuk without adult supervision

I'm really glad families are first in BC, because I'd hate to see what life would be like if they weren't.

Anonymous said...

Our family of 7 and two other parents were told by Carla Thiesen that there are empty group homes and there are no waiting lists to get into group homes. She told us this twice in a meeting a few weeks ago. What do you think of that?

Anonymous said...

Even if there were wait lists families would not be given that option anyway.

What is CLBC's plan when people with declining physical mobility can no longer continue to live in Home Share situations? They'll be looking for group homes then - many of which have accessible bathrooms and can accommodate wheelchairs etc. Many of these people will still be too young for Long Term Care which wouldn't be appropriate for them.

Anonymous said...

Long Term Care is a different ministry. A win for CLBC - gets people off of their case load.

The reality is that group homes which have accessible bathrooms and can accommodate wheelchairs etc are needed now. People with developmental disabilities have shorter life spans, and need physical supports sooner.

Anonymous said...

The Campbell Clark Liberals can't find the money for the disabled or for adequate funding for healthcare or education, or for funding legal costs for all stakeholders in the Picton Enquiry, or just about anything else that should matter in a fair and just society.

But somehow they have no problem finding cash to hire friends and insiders (eg several recent poaches from the MSM into Christy Clark's personal stable); piles of cash to purchase hugely expensive add campaigns from a chosen few "public" broadcasters - an investment of taxpayers' money that has returned the Liberals handsome political dividends; they had many Extra Millions of dollars over and above the "promised" limit of $5 Million for a "fair and balanced" HST information campaign (LOL); and Christy Clark and her gang even had a few extra $ Millions set aside for a Canucks Victory Parade! Who was it just bought ads to characterize John Cummins as untrustworthy? If Christy Clark's second plank in her next election campaign, right after Fast Ferries, is going to be Trustworthiness, the BC Liberal Party better get rid of her right now.

Raymond Graham

Anonymous said...

Not sure where to put this, so I'll just drop it here...

Integrating autistic people into the community - Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing