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.”
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)
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