In particular, they were calling for the elimination of wait lists for Passport funding and residential services. People waiting for Passport currently sits at 11,000, while 15,000 people are waiting for residential supports.
The Queen’s Park rally was inspired by a group of families from the Windsor area, after attending a meeting hosted by Lisa Gretzky, Windsor West MPP and NDP Critic for Community and Social Services.
“It’s the responsibility of the government to assist the families and the caregivers to help these children thrive, not only as children, but as they enter adulthood. They should never, ever, whether as a child or an adult, be made to languish on a wait list for funding or supports,” said Gretzky, who’s comments were echoed by Monique Taylor, Hamilton Mountain MPP and Critic for Children and Youth Services.
“No parent should have to fight for treatment, fight for education supports, fight for Passport funding and then fight for a home in which your loved one is going to live in. And that home needs to be in the community that they know and understand.”
Those in attendance also heard from parents who are affected by a lack of funding. Tecumseh resident Angela Cervi said she and her husband may be forced to retire early to support their son, Alexander. They have been without funding since he turned 18. He’s now 21 and will be leaving high school next month.
Christopher, Denis and Linda Ouellette travelled from North Bay to participate in the rally. Christopher is waiting for residential supports even though he already qualifies.
“The wait lists are 10 years or more and that’s a great concern of ours,” said Linda Ouellette. “I’m already 68-years-old. You know, at 78, I’m not going to be in the mood [to fight for changes. Christopher] deserves an opportunity to practice his independence. We’re not asking for a mansion, just an opportunity in a timely manner, along with a lot of other individuals in our area.”
The Ouellettes intend to join a $110 million class action lawsuit against the Ontario government for failing to eliminate the wait list for support services. Koskie Minsky is the law firm that is spearheading the class action, which has yet to be certified.
Click on the video below for a full recap of the rally.
Ron Laroche, Community Living Ontario