Community Living Advocates 'Stay Home' on Would-Be Day at the Legislature

Broken Promise by Ontario Government Leaves Families and People Who Have a Disability at Risk and in Crisis; Leads to Cancelled Celebrations

TORONTO, May 4 /CNW/ - Community Living Ontario was scheduled to hold its annual Community Living Day at the Legislature today, an event that typically celebrates the collaborative efforts and partnership between the Ontario Government and Community Living associations in supporting people who have a disability to live well in the community. Instead, the provincial association, its local affiliates, families, and people supported by Community Living, are 'staying home' this year. Following recent budget announcements, and given the current crisis facing developmental services in Ontario - with more than 19,000 people on waiting lists for residential and other critical supports; and 1,500 parents providing primary care to their children on waitlists for residential services (80% of these being parents over the age of 70) - Community Living Ontario decided it would be inappropriate to hold a celebration this year while so many lives are virtually hanging in the balance.

While developmental services is not the only human service sector hurting for funding in Ontario's current economic climate, it is in a unique position of facing increased financial risk as a result of the Ontario Government's recent decision to withdraw funding it had committed to the sector in 2007. This decision has left support agencies "scrambling to cover the financial commitments that they have made in anticipation that these resources would be forthcoming," wrote Karen Gledhill, President of Community Living Ontario, in a letter to Madeleine Meilleur, Minister of Community and Social Services. (See letter: http://www.communitylivingontario.ca/news-events/news/community-living-ontario-cancels-annual-day-legislature-letter-minister-madeleine-m)

Agencies face having to reduce services and layoff support staff. This will impact people who currently receive those supports and services - along with those on waiting lists. The anxiety for ageing parents across Ontario is particularly acute right now.

"I am 53 and see no relief in sight for as long as I am able to stand," says Denise Hastings, parent of three adults, including a 25-year old man who has a developmental disability. "Resources, like group homes, are on a priority basis. So, short of a complete breakdown I guess this is our fate. Sometimes, lately, that breakdown seems terrifyingly close."

Another parent, Guyanne Smoke, is demanding a solution. "It is imperative that MCSS (Ministry of Community and Social Services) invests in the future of people with disabilities by increasing funding available for supports, diminishing waitlists and increasing services," Smoke says. "I implore the Ministry to take action and show our society that every member of society is equally important and deserves the right to live life to the fullest. It is shameful that the most vulnerable of our society are the ones that seem to live below standards."

"Despite financial constraints and the cancellation of our annual celebration, Community Living will press forward with the work of creating welcoming and supportive communities, and working with government to ensure that it remains accountable and responsive to the significant needs of individuals and families," adds Karen Gledhill.

Community Living Ontario is a province-wide federation that promotes and facilitates the full participation and inclusion of people who have an intellectual disability. More than 12,000 people are members of Community Living Ontario through membership in 117 affiliated local associations. Community Living provides direct support and services to people who have an intellectual disability, helps communities build the capacity to support people, and advocates for social change toward the full inclusion of all people in community.

SOURCE Community Living Ontario

For further information: For further information: For media interviews, please contact: Abigail Brown, Communications Department, Community Living Ontario, Phone: (416) 735-3101 or E-mail: abigail@communitylivingontario.ca

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