Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) - Ontario

Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) - Ontario

May 03, 2013 12:54 ET

Ontario budget offers grim future for developmentally disabled and their families

GUELPH, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - May 3, 2013) - Despite a small funding injection, yesterday's provincial budget was met with "disappointment and bewilderment" by Guelph Wellington families of individuals with a developmental disability and the community living staff who provide them services and supports. In a media conference on Wednesday this week they appealed to the Liberals and Guelph MPP Liz Sandals directly to reverse the years of sector underfunding that has left 23,000 Ontario families and 400 in Guelph Wellington without the supports they need.

While on the surface it seems that the $42 million announced in the 2013 budget is a positive, it will do little to address the growing waitlists for services and the crisis families face in caring for their loved ones without adequate government support, says Fred Hahn, the president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario.

"The funding increase is barely enough to keep the lights on at group homes. It's a grim future for supported individuals as more and more existing services are cut and access to services for the many desperate families waiting on long lists for supports diminishes. It's just false to suggest that this level of funding is not hurting thousands of Ontarians," says Hahn, who prior to becoming CUPE Ontario president worked as a social worker in the developmental service sector.

Recently Community Living Guelph Wellington cut 90 residential program hours a week, a cut that has seriously hampered staff's ability to take supported individuals out in the community. Province-wide nearly two thirds of community living agencies are cutting residential and day programs and laying off staff after years of provincial underfunding.

"Families need good, public community-based supports that they can rely on. This budget will not help them. Nearly one-third of parents whose children have developmental disabilities are over the age of 70. They need to know their adult children will be safe when they're not able to care for them anymore," says Hahn.

The small funding increase came after several months of shocking media stories about desperate Ontario parents who are no longer able to care for their intellectually disabled children leaving them at Ontario agencies and thousands of petition signatures calling for improved funding.

Joanne Smithers a residential worker at Guelph Wellington's community living agency says she, other workers and area families of supported individuals will continue to push for much better funding for services so parents in dire need of help don't drop off their child to Guelph agencies and leave them there like an Ottawa mom did earlier this week.

"This just isn't right. It's terribly disappointing but also bewildering why the Liberals who know that the sector needs far more funding than they put in yesterday, would turn their backs on so many people. We'll continue to push our Liberal MPP for the right level of funding so that the many families without supports in Guelph get off the waitlists and so the front line staff no longer have to subsidize services through low wages and overwork," says Smithers.

Contact Information

  • Stella Yeadon
    CUPE Communications
    (416) 559-9300