'Provincial government funding for CLBC has flat-lined and CLBC is trying to reduce a $22 million deficit by requiring agencies to reduce and redesign services to cut costs.' - BCGEU.
Vancouver (17 Sept. 2010) - The British Columbia Government and Service Employees' Union (BCGEU/NUPGE) says it has learned that Prima Enterprises Ltd. will be shutting down its Lower Mainland operations due to funding cuts by Community Living British Columbia (CLBC).
Long-term group home residents and adults with complex support needs will be impacted and nearly 50 BCGEU members will be laid off.
"The community living sector is in crisis," says BCGEU president Darryl Walker. "We're seeing these cuts, closures, layoffs and service disruptions across the province."
BCGEU is aware of at least eight recent group home closures on Vancouver Island, in the Fraser Valley, in the Interior and in the North. It has also heard about staffing reductions at some group homes and says service agencies have advised that an additional 10 (or more) group home closures may be coming soon, including many in the Lower Mainland.
"This is completely cost-driven," notes Walker. "Provincial government funding for CLBC has flat-lined and CLBC is trying to reduce a $22 million deficit by requiring agencies to reduce and redesign services to cut costs."
The union says it has also learned that CLBC has cut Prima Enterprises' Vancouver Coastal budget roughly in half and that the agency can no longer afford to run its three group homes and community inclusion programs in North Vancouver and Coquitlam.
At least one of the North Vancouver homes, currently occupied by three high needs, long-term residents may close. The operation of the Coquitlam home will go to a different agency. All 47 staff at the three locations will receive layoff notices.
Some group home residents may be relocated into placements where they will share a home with an individual care provider.
"Home sharing works for some adults with development disabilities but it may not be suitable for individuals with higher and more complex support needs," notes Walker. "And as a community living residential service delivery model, home sharing is largely unregulated and untested."
BCGEU will continue to monitor developments and speak out against cuts in the community living sector. The union will also work with members at Prima to ensure continued employment for as many staff as possible.
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