Statement from Community Living Ontario CEO Chris Beesley regarding the election of PC Government

On behalf of the Board of Directors and our membership, Community Living Ontario looks forward to working with the next Government of Ontario to bring about a clear plan of action that enables every person who has an intellectual or developmental disability in this province to lead a meaningful and fully inclusive life.

When Community Living Ontario President Jim McNamara and I met with Premier-elect Doug Ford on April 21, we shared the organization’s perspective on the challenges and difficulties affecting people, families and community agencies.

We also stressed the significant investments made in the Developmental Services sector by the Liberal Government in the 2018 Ontario Budget.

For instance, people who are part of the Ontario Disability Support Program and who work will be able to earn $400 per month without impacting their benefits beginning in the fall of 2018.

People who were waiting for Passport funding are now guaranteed a $5,000 minimum annually, enabling them to access timely services.

Community agencies have been promised more than $200 million over three years along with a pledge to address other pressures such as pay equity, the implementation of Bill 148, and future wage increases.

In total, $1.8 billion was committed over three years to expand Developmental Services in Ontario.

Let’s also not forget that under the governments of Dalton McGuinty and Kathleen Wynne, we saw the closure of Ontario’s institutions and the transitioning of people from sheltered workshops into inclusive employment or volunteer opportunities.

These are fundamental changes that have provided, and will continue to provide, people with better access to desperately needed resources and help them to gain greater dignity, respect, and valued roles in their community.

Sadly, however, some people and families still continue to struggle.

The Select Committee on Developmental Services, an all-party committee that was formed in 2013, stated there was a crisis in the Developmental Services sector, and the committee concluded that all people have a right to appropriate and timely supports throughout their lives. It also called for the end to waitlists. Right now, the waitlist for residential services sits at 11,000, and it is common that adults have to wait more than 20 years for residential supports.

Ontario Ombudsman Paul Dubé’s 2016 report, Nowhere to Turn, identified many harsh realities for people who have an intellectual or developmental disability and their families, and he put forward 60 recommendations to address the crisis.

We can do better. We must do better.

Like we stated to Premier-elect Ford on April 21, Community Living Ontario is eager to come to the table with the concerns and recommendations of our membership, alongside our counterparts in the Developmental Services sector and the Government of Ontario, to press forward and develop a clear plan with achievable targets to close the gaps in funding, services and supports. By doing this, together, I am confident that many more people who have an intellectual or developmental disability will be able to fully participate in the community and enjoy all the benefits of full citizenship.