A broad and diverse group of almost 200 self-advocates, families, workers and other key stakeholders met in Vancouver earlier this week to strategize around working together to address the current crisis in the community living sector.
Vancouver (28 Oct. 2010) - "After our meeting there should be no doubt about the urgency and seriousness of this situation," says James Cavalluzzo, chair of BCGEU's community social services component. "We heard at the meeting that inadequate provincial funding, group home closures, service cuts and needs reassessments are hurting adults with developmental disabilities, their families and the workers who support them."
The meeting, held at the Ukrainian Orthodox Centre in Vancouver, was organized by the BC Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU/NUPGE), Moms on the Move, BC Coalition of People with Disabilities, BC FamilyNet, BC Association for Community Living, the Developmental Disabilities Association and UCS Co-op. Despite the rain, self-advocates, families and workers filled the centre's auditorium to discuss ways to ensure that adults with developmental disabilities have the options, services and supports they need.
"The negative impacts on individual choice and quality of life resulting from government cutbacks in community living became clear over the course of the evening," says Doug Kinna, chair of BCGEU's social, information and health component. "The government needs to immediately increase funding to CLBC to restore and improve supports for adults with developmental disabilities."
Meeting participants heard presentations from panelists offering a wide variety of perspectives, including Cheryl Magnussen, a parent and disability advocate whose adult daughter with complex needs is at risk due to pressures to move to home sharing.
"Cheryl's situation is reflective of the broader crisis," says Cavalluzzo. "Group homes are being closed, services are being reduced, and cost-driven relocations to home sharing are being proposed without adequate consultation with families and service providers."
The meeting concluded with proposals for and calls to action. Clear consensus emerged around key issues and solutions, and participants expressed a willingness to work together going forward.
"The provincial government has indicated that group home residents will not be compelled to move and that adults with developmental disabilities should have choices in residential supports," says Cavalluzzo. "We believe they should be held to these commitments."
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE