Ontario Parents want help for their developmentally delayed adult-age children

TheStar.com – News/Queen’s Park – Parents of developmentally disabled children needing help as they become adults ask “what will happen after we are gone?
May 10, 2017.   By

Parents of developmentally disabled children are increasing the pressure on the Ontario government for more help as their kids become adults but still need constant care.

Lengthy waiting lists remain for as many as 14,000 families whose children turn 18 and have to reapply for aid as they are cut off from funding they have enjoyed for years, New Democrat MPP Liza Gretzky told a news conference Wednesday.

“What will happen to our children after we are gone?” said Sharon Gabison, a single mother from Maple, north of Toronto, whose son, Eric, is 20 but functions at the level of a five-year-old and requires constant supervision.

“He has no concept of danger. He’ll walk out into traffic,” she added before a rally in front of the Legislature.

Despite scathing reports in the last three years from the Ontario ombudsman, auditor general and an all-party legislative committee that more assistance is essential, the government has managed only to clear the waiting list from 2014, Gretzky said.

“At this point it seems there is no end in sight . . . some people have had to quit their jobs to pick up the slack.”

The renewed push for aid came a month after the father of a young developmentally disabled woman from Timmins launched a $110-million class action lawsuit against the provincial government for failing to eliminate the lengthy waiting list. The lawsuit has not yet been certified.

Community and Social Services Minister Helena Jaczek acknowledged the hardships families face and said the Liberals have doubled the budget for people with developmental disabilities since taking office in 2003.

It now stands at $2.1 billion and last month’s provincial budget would increase that by $677 million, Jaczek added, urging the opposition New Democrats not to vote against it.

There are now 24,000 people receiving support under the ministry’s “Passport” program for the developmentally disabled.

“In terms of the Passport waiting list, what we do is we ensure that priority cases receive Passport funding first. They’re prioritized very carefully according to their unique needs and their risk factors,” Jaczek said.

“Individuals with the highest need receive funding in as little as seven days, with about 75 per cent receiving funding within six months.”

The extra money in the budget is aimed at providing housing, particularly for those who may be “inappropriately” staying in long-term care homes, hospitals or jails because they have run into trouble with the law, Jaczek said.

Gretzky (Windsor West) said families “need action, not platitudes” with 11,000 on the waiting list for Passport funding along with the 14,000 on waiting list for supportive housing.

“Your government brags about eliminating the waiting list from three years ago but the crisis in developmental services is still here and it’s growing,” she shot at Jaczek.

https://www.thestar.com/news/queenspark/2017/05/10/ontario-parents-want-help-for-their-developmentally-delayed-adult-age-children.html

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