Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Ontario Budget begins to tackle huge crisis for families in Ontario

Ontario Budget begins to tackle huge crisis for families in Ontario

Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Ontario Budget included $42 million per year for support to people who have an intellectual disability. New funds will be invested to help families and adults in urgent need, reduce waitlist pressures and better support those with complex needs.

Many families who are facing crisis will benefit from these new funds but unfortunately, it will not stretch nearly far enough to prevent many more exhausted parents reaching the crises point Amanda Telford reached earlier this week. Amanda dropped her son off at an Ontario government office Tuesday morning because she and her husband could not care for him any longer.

For 19 years, the Telfords supervised their severely autistic, non-verbal son, Philippe, guarding him against what is for him a dangerous world. He is a wanderer: the police have had to search for him more times than Amanda can count. Even at home, little is safe. Because of his diabetes, even a loaf of bread on the kitchen counter is a hazard.

We have seen several similar stories over the last few months – Denise Hastings and Wilma Arthurs and the Chauvin family. And after this budget, there will be more.

Many families caring for disabled children struggle to get enough help, in the form or respite care or funding for personal workers to spend time with their son or daughter. Ministry statistics are reported to show waiting lists for residential supports across the province at close to 12,000. Families, with a son or daughter who has an intellectual disability, if they are lucky, receive funding for a few hours of respite care. This may allow them and their son or daughter some critical support and augment the constant care they need to provide.

This budget won’t avoid the very real crisis that is upon us fuelled by the lack of funding of supports for people who have intellectual disabilities and their families. Incremental investments in support funding over the years have not kept pace with the demands and a lack of recent investments along with recent changes to provincial funding for families for a few hours of care for their adult children who have intellectual disabilities are causing the crisis.

More and more families are reaching a breaking point. We have no doubt that there will be more sons and daughters who have an intellectual disability whose parents will reach the end of their ability to continue providing day by day supports without some help.

The crisis caused by the lack of funding is compounded by that fact that as parents age, their ability to support their adult children who have severe disabilities becomes more and more difficult. Aging parents are developing their own health issues and simply not as able to care for their adult sons and daughters. A recent study by the Institute of Disability and Human Development showed a 10 per cent higher incidence of chronic health conditions by older caregivers of adults who have an intellectual disability.

Community Living Ontario represents over hundred Community Living associations across the province, and advocates for people who have intellectual disabilities and their families.

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