Families from the Windsor area came together on Friday, September 22nd to demand the Government of Ontario alleviate the stresses that the current funding system is creating for their loved ones who have a disability.
Called Nowhere to Turn, the rally was hosted by Parents of Adult Children with Disabilities Windsor-Essex and took place next to the office for the Ministry of Community and Social Services in Windsor. The group was formed to bring attention to the challenges people who have a disability face after they turn 18.
Organizer Mary Beth Rocheleau, whose son, Gregory, is 17 years old, stated waitlists for government funding force some adults to live in homeless shelters or nursing homes.
She also highlighted the issue of young people having to apply for Passport funding when they turn 18, which often means several years on a waitlist even though they qualify for funding.
“Our people matter. People with developmental disabilities matter and they’re not disposable as your government has been treating them,” said Rocheleau, referring to Premier Kathleen Wynne.
“They deserve a quality of life like everybody else.”
In addition, Rocheleau discussed the funding inadequacies of the Ontario Disability Support Program. As of September 1st, 2017, a single person is eligible for as much as $1,150 a month, a slight increase from $1,128 a month they had been receiving previously.
Shirley Knight’s sons Max, 21, and Josh, 19, both have Cerebral Palsy. They waited two years before they received Passport funding.
“My boys had workers since they were four, so it’s tough when all of a sudden the funding is cut off. It really becomes a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul,” she said.
Community Living Ontario’s Director of Policy, Gord Kyle, also addressed those in attendance.
“Community Living [Ontario] has been telling the government for a long time now that there is a crisis coming in respect to supports and services and we are now well within that crisis,” he said.
“It’s been obvious to us for a long time that the system we have in place is broken.”
The rally in Windsor was the second one to take place in the province in the same week. On Wednesday, September 20th, families in North Bay held their own rally at City Hall. Also titled Nowhere to Turn, organizers there focused on the waitlist for residential supports.
Ron Laroche, Community Living Ontario