Government not keeping earlier commitments to persons with developmental disabilities, open letter charges

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – The government isn’t meeting its own targets in terms of integrating people with disabilities in their communities, says the Community Homes Action Group (CHAG). The group was formed several years ago to draw attention to the serious lack of residential options for persons with developmental disabilities,

In an open letter to the Premier and the leaders of the two opposition parties the group expresses its deep disappointment with what it calls the “very slow progress in implementing the Roadmap for transforming services to persons with disabilities.”

A rally against institutionalization and criminalization of persons labeled with developmental disabilities at the Spring Garden Raad Court House a few years back. Photo Robert Devet.

That so-called Roadmap Report promised that large institutions would be phased out, and care and funding would become more tailored to individuals. Community Services also committed to be more open and inclusive in its planning and policy making.

The ambitious transformation project was announced in 2013 by the NDP, the party in power at that time. Joanne Bernard, the current minister of Community Services, endorsed the transformation shortly after winning the election.

The budget indicates that we are settling into an unfortunate pattern. For the second budget in a row the government is following the Roadmap with its foot firmly on the brake,” writes Dr. Brian Hennen on behalf of CHAG.

The limited new spending allocated in this budget isn’t nearly enough to tackle the immense problems faced by people looking for community-based solutions.

New funding will increase the capacity in small option homes by only 12 to 16 beds, while the flex program supporting those who have insufficient, family or community support may assist another 25 individuals, writes Hennen.

Meanwhile waiting lists have grown in the past year from about 1,100 to 1,341, the letter states.  

“Successful transformation requires a more robust fiscal commitment in the short term to provide better, more cost-effective services in the long run,”the letter suggests.

“The Department’s own data, obtained through freedom of information, show that over the past five years costs-per-case in the eight institutions have been increasing at a much faster rate than community-based options or group homes.  

“Running two systems is more costly. As the Roadmap suggests, reduced reliance on large institutions and a much enhanced community-based residential system must go hand in hand,” the letter concludes.

Read the entire open letter to Premier McNeil here.

See also: Community Services roadmap hits speedbump, and Community Services commitment to disabilities roadmap wavers (for the Halifax Media Coop)

If you can, please support the Nova Scotia Advocate so that it can continue to cover issues such as poverty, racism, exclusion, workers’ rights and the environment in Nova Scotia. A pay wall is not an option, since it would exclude many readers who don’t have any disposable income at all. We rely entirely on one-time donations and a small group of kindhearted monthly sustainers.



One Comment

  1. Response to the article published on April 17th titled, “No quick shift for care for the mentally challenged in Nova Scotia.”
    Department of Community Services, Executive Director, Joe Rudderham speaks a number of times about not rushing into “building community…” and that “it’s important to plan , design and implement in a methodical way”…”we need to be sure the supports and capacity are there, and that communities are ready to have individuals fully integrated…” Seriously? What planet does he come from?
    Parents have been building capacity in community for their children with disabilities throughout their entire lives. Going to school in inclusive settings with their peers, attending recreation programs, swimming at our neighborhood recreation centres, working in partnership with local communities, initiating innovative ideas, seeking funding when necessary, building relationships with local businesses for future employment and residential services—wanting to dream for our sons & daughter’s future. This is not rocket science—it is simply about living a full, ordinary life. The same life that I want for both of my children—one with and one without disabilities.
    Residential agencies in NS have been successfully supporting and building community for persons with disabilities for decades.
    Mr. Rudderham talks about wanting to take time so they don’t make the same mistakes as in other jurisdictions. This is a conversation at least a decade old. Move on, learn from the mistakes of others but please start making things happen in our province. Don’t make this seem bigger than it is—or more difficult.
    Nova Scotia was once considered a leader in the deinstitutionalization process (a term of its time) when in the early 90’s we closed the Children’s Training Centres in our province to provide a more inclusive service delivery system to better support families and provide a higher quality of life for our children. We don’t have to look at other jurisdictions because we’ve already done this here with success. We have best practices in our own province.
    The government’s implementation of “The Roadmap” has received a colossal fail according to the CHAG (Community Homes for Action Group) Report Card. How can this be when we are already heading into Phase 3? What has been accomplished? If government is so keen on the need to “build community” perhaps they can provide us with the details of how they have succeeded to date with Phase 1 & 2 of the Roadmap to build capacity in community? What progress has been made? What successes can be shared? What outcomes have been met?
    I am so proud of the life we have created for our daughter. We live in Dartmouth and she is well known in both Dartmouth and Halifax because she has a presence in her community. She is both an avid consumer and volunteer. She has lived a wonderful life. As aging parents, we now want her wonderful life to continue in a home of her own. If we are committed to person-centred planning and individualized funding, Mallory can pretty much live her life anywhere. It is not about small option homes or wait lists. We can do better than that.
    Barb Horner
    Dartmouth 902-435-6754

Comments are closed.