The message of inclusion and citizenship for all was heard loud and clear at Queen’s Park on Tuesday (May 9th), as nearly 200 people from across the province took part in Community Living Day at the Legislature.
Before and after the noon hour reception, member organizations took the opportunity to meet with their respective MPPs, delivering our collective message and sharing the many success stories that are taking place in their communities. Some people also chose to take in the afternoon legislative session and to tour Queen’s Park.
“The work of our Confederation happens town by town, in communities across the province. Our success relies heavily on the support of every MPP, in every community across Ontario. So, for your ongoing and tireless commitment to the lives of people who have an intellectual disability and their families, we thank you and we look forward to working with you in the coming year,” said Chris Beesley, Chief Executive Officer of Community Living Ontario, who reaffirmed the important steps that have taken place through our collective efforts.
“We acknowledge, for example, new investments in supports and services in the recent budget. We are pleased that the government listened to our recommendation to approve the level of assets a person can hold and the gifts they can receive without affecting their ODSP payments.”
James Taylor, Chair of the Council of Community Living Ontario, took the opportunity to address those in attendance by talking about poverty and the harm it causes people.
“Poverty, for many people who have an intellectual disability, is the biggest barrier to living a decent life. How can anyone feel safe or secure when we don’t have enough money to meet our basic needs? Being poor is not an acceptable way to live. When you are poor, nothing else matters. Living in poverty is stressful and can affect your health, your self-esteem and the ability to live independently.”
Community and Social Services Minister Helena Jaczek and her counterparts Lisa Gretzky (NDP) and Randy Pettapiece (PC) provided remarks during the luncheon.
A delegation from Community Living Ontario also met with Pettapiece and Gretzky later that day. The proposed increase to the ODSP asset limit, passport funding for young adults, the wait list for residential supports and an increase to base funding for support organizations were among the many topics discussed. Community Living Ontario intends to meet with Minister Jaczek in the coming weeks.
A special thanks to the staff of Community Living Toronto who made the day possible. On a related note, many MPPs took them up on their offer of a Kit Kat bar and to take a break with Community Living. At one point during the day, the hashtag #ITookABreak17 was trending on Twitter.
If you missed out on the fun, we encourage you to attend next year’s Community Living Day at the Legislature. In the meantime, we have compiled a series of videos from the day.
Ron Laroche, Community Living Ontario