12,000 Ontarians Linger on Waiting Lists While Province Struggles with

Budget Lacks Strategy for Funding Crisis in Services for People Who Have an Intellectual Disability and their Families

TORONTO, March 25 /CNW/ - While the Ministry of Community and Social Services currently provides residential supports to 16,000 people who have an intellectual disability, almost 12,000 others linger on waiting lists for critical services in Ontario. Among these 12,000, about 1,500 people are living with parents over the age of 70 and are in need of urgent support. Despite this, the Minister of Finance, Dwight Duncan, has indicated no new resources to address these critical needs - a situation that will continue to put individuals and families at risk, advocates say.

"We appreciate that the Ontario Government has taken action to prevent funding cuts to developmental services in a deficit climate. However, a clear strategy to address current funding shortages is still needed - and fast. The wage freezes announced today will further increase labour unrest in services and decrease agencies' capacity to provide supports that people need," said Keith Powell, Executive Director of Community Living Ontario, the provincial body of more than 115 local associations that provide supports and services to more than 12,000 people who have an intellectual disability and their families.

Funding shortages have long plagued Developmental Services in Ontario. In 2007, the Ontario government made a commitment to funding increases over several years, with a final 2% increase committed to the sector for this year. There was no indication of those dollars in today's budget, and service-providers are pressing for action that will stabilize the sector and ensure individuals and families will not lose the services and supports they need.

"While Community Living associations are supporting many people to live well in the community, we are still facing critical challenges," added Powell. "Aging parents are worried about what support their adult children will have after they die, and agencies will certainly have to consider laying off workers or cutting back their services just to survive."

While the government did provide for a 1% cost of living increase through the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), with the top payment for ODSP capped at $1,052 per month, those dollars won't go far for a person struggling through poverty to pay rent, buy groceries, and meet other expenses.

Community Living and the Ontario Government have been working together in this province for 60 years to support people and families in their communities. We know this can be done with success," added Powell. "Together we need to figure out ways to sustain community-based supports so that people's lives and potential are not placed at risk."

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: Media Contact: Abigail Brown, Cell: (416) 735-3101, E-mail: abigail@communitylivingontario.ca

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Community Living Ontario

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