I am a support worker for the developmentally disabled; the people I support rely on me to live a life of intrinsic value, equality, and inclusion. The supports that we provide have enabled individuals living with a disability to achieve goals and change their lives. Without adequate funding for the much needed supports and housing this province has an ever growing waitlist of 20,000 vulnerable people, and in Thunder Bay we face a waitlist of 160 people awaiting residential services and over 200 people awaiting day services. It is an outrage that provincial government will potentially cut funding to a sector that is already seriously underfunded. This waitlist makes very little movement; one way to get off this list is to be considered “in crisis”. In this community in 2010 we had a very sad situation occur with a person awaiting residential care, this individual was living with her aging mother and her mother passed away in the home it was estimated by the police, that it had been hours that this individual had been left alone in the home, before she was able to come to an understanding that there was something wrong with her mother and eventually called 911. This should never have had to happen to this woman and as result of this situation she now has post traumatic stress, however she is off the waitlist.
The provincial government demands that agencies place people in residence if there is an open bed, often times with roommates that are not compatible. The outcome of such placements can become frustrating for the residences that already reside in the home; as well as, the people being placed in the site. This frustration level and lack of compatibility can and has resulted in violent situations both for workers and individuals. There is no extra funding for transition; there is no additional or permanent funding for supports and this has created inadequate levels of staffing the end result of which is an unsafe living and work environment. Imagine what it would feel like to have no choice in whom you live with or where you will be living. These are vulnerable people that rely on us to ensure they are protected and safe and they deserve better. The provincial government needs to do better, and stop cutting our public services.Erin Smith-Rice