Wednesday, May 04, 2011

An excerpt from Hansard, from the May 3 session of the BC legislature. Social Development Minister Harry Bloy, a brand-new cabinet minister, has obviously learned the lesson well of just repeating the same key message over and over, even when it makes no sense whatsoever in the context of the information that the Opposition members are bringing forward. 
Really, the public should not let Community Living B.C. and the government get away with this fairy tale about how nobody with a developmental disability has been forced out of their group home against their will - it simply isn't true. And yes, there have been cuts, regardless of what Bloy says - when you add in new people who qualify for service without increasing funding, the others who have been receiving services up to that point have to take a cut for that to happen. It's basic math. 

N. Simons: Last week in this House the minister responsible for Community Living B.C. said that no adult with a developmental disability was forced to move out of their group home. Perhaps the minister could tell that to Renata Cole of Terrace, whose daughter and three other residents of a home were required to move because of the budget pressures put on by this government to Community Living B.C.
Can the minister please explain to that family how their daughter was forced to move?
Hon. H. Bloy: To the member across the way, in my short time in this ministry I have been assured by Rick Mowles, the CEO of Community Living British Columbia, that no one has ever been moved without their prior approval, without being part of the planning process.
In my meetings with the British Columbia Association for Community Living, Faith Bodnar and some of the families associated with them talked about the great work that Community Living British Columbia does. In fact, they were recognized as the leader across Canada in the work that Community Living B.C. does.
Mr. Speaker: The member has a supplemental.
N. Simons: Maybe the minister's responsibility now is to look objectively at the programs his government provides instead of listening without question to everything he's been told by the people who are propping him up. These are families that are being impacted by the minister's cuts. These are families that are being told contradictions to reality. Despite what the minister said last week, we've had group home closures, forced moves. We've had program cuts, budget cuts, and now we have a minister who's in denial.
There's a person in British Columbia who waits by the door. After 20 years of going to a day program, he's no longer funded. He puts his coat on, and he waits by the door for his lift. If that's not a program cut, I don't know what is.
What is this minister going to do to get to the truth of the issue in his ministry and actually address the needs of families who have a member with a developmental disability?
Hon. H. Bloy: I want to reiterate to the member across the way that group homes are not a choice. Group homes have not been closed. Every individual has been asked if they want to move out. Not every person wants to live in a group home.
You know, this is not about the budget; this is about a plan which is best for individuals. There are lots of people that live in our communities. They work in our community, they have disabilities, they study in our community. We have athletes that are training, living in our community. These are about choice, and these choices are made by individuals without any question of being forced to move.
M. Karagianis: I just heard the minister say that government offers a plan that is best for individuals. Well, I'd like the minister to tell that to Kirsten Eikenstein. She has been caring for her daughter Corrine for the past 19 years here in greater Victoria.
Corrine has cerebral palsy, is unable to use her hands and is 100 percent dependent on all aspects of care. Now, Corrine was receiving 12 hours of care a week, but this B.C. Liberal government cut that. Now Corrine gets two hours respite a week, and when she turns 18 and finishes high school, that will be cut.
So I'd like to ask the minister: do you think it's okay for people like Corrine to be cut off of services entirely when they turn 18 years of age?
Hon. H. Bloy: I can assure the members across the way that Community Living British Columbia is reviewing, Members, and…. What's the word I'm looking for? They…. I'm sorry.
Mr. Speaker: Members.
Continue, Minister.
Hon. H. Bloy: Community Living B.C. reviews each client that comes into the system, and clients with special needs are reviewed from about the age of 15 so that they are prepared
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I'm sorry.
Mr. Speaker: Members.
Continue, Minister.
Hon. H. Bloy: Community Living B.C. reviews each client that comes into the system. Clients with special needs are reviewed from about the age of 15 so that they're prepared. They have a plan ready for that individual when they come into Community Living British Columbia.
Mr. Speaker: The member has a supplemental.
M. Karagianis: I'm actually quite shocked that the government thinks that zero support is a plan for any child aging out of school. But maybe the minister can defend the numbers to Janet Gann. She has been the primary caregiver for her disabled son for the past 19 years, despite her own health issues.
Janet's son has been doing a job training program in Burnaby and is part of the Special Olympics skating team. Community inclusion is very paramount to her son's mental health. Yet, once Janet's son completes high school, he will no longer receive any supports — none of the supports necessary to be part of his community.
Janet wants to know from this minister why her son should have to pay for the B.C. Liberal government funding squeeze for this ministry?
Hon. H. Bloy: Community Living British Columbia has not cut its budget. It has increased by $13 million over the last year, and it continues to work with innovative approaches to help all individuals.
You know, we had a report out last week from B.C.-CLAG. I've read that report, I'm reviewing it, and I look to further talking with my staff about that report.
S. Simpson: This minister and the B.C. Liberals are failing people with developmental disabilities in British Columbia. That's the reality, particularly for people who are living in group homes. So 33 closures, and young people moving from children and families to CLBC are finding that there is no service available for them when they get there. That's the reality we're facing.
This minister talks about the assessments that are done. Well, let's talk about that. This assessment is done by the Guide to Support Allocation. That's what CLBC uses. Let me read you one clause out of this flawed report: "Staff are to focus on current disability-related needs as outlined within the plan, rather than past or anticipated future need."
My question to the minister. Does he think it makes any sense that with a person with a developmental disability, when you do their assessment, you ignore their history, and you ignore their potential future condition? Is that his idea of an assessment?
Hon. H. Bloy: Our first priority as a government and through Community Living British Columbia remains the individuals and the families that we support. There have been no budget cuts. I want to reiterate that. There's been a $13 million increase.
Community Living British Columbia remains committed to serving our clients with innovative support and services. We want to reach out to each client that we have within the system. I'm proud of the work that Community Living staff and their 3,200 contract providers provide to these people across all of British Columbia.
Mr. Speaker: The member has a supplemental.
S. Simpson: Let's talk about those providers. This minister talks about the providers. Well, most of them are members of the B.C. Association for Community Living. This minister talked about Faith Bodnar, their executive director. So what has she said about the performance of this government? "We know that service redesign is not an answer to addressing the funds needed for those who are waiting for service. It is short-sighted, a poor and harmful excuse for fiscal planning, and completely unsustainable." That's what the community thinks about this government's plan.
Hon. Speaker, the plan has failed. The reality is this: 600 people a year, new people coming into the system, and no money for them.
Will the minister go to his friend, the Finance Minister, and get him to give a few of that $2½ billion of cushion to Community Living B.C. so that the developmentally disabled don't have to pay for your fiscal mismanagement?
Hon. H. Bloy: I want to reassure, to the members opposite, that our first
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Hon. H. Bloy: I want to reassure, to the members opposite, that our first priority is always the individual and their families. You know, I can tell you that Community Living B.C. has not had a cut in budget. It's had an increase of $13 million. I've met with the community living association of British Columbia in the discussions that I've had.
They're so proud of the work that CLBC does in British Columbia. They recognize them as a leader is what they told me in a meeting that I had with them and some of their family members. I look forward to meeting with them again in the future. But they were pleased with the work that we were doing. They considered Community Living British Columbia a leader in providing services for individuals with developmental disabilities.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Rick Mowles, the CEO of Community Living British Columbia, has a real ideological bent that is driving CLBC.

It is worth noting that about half of the workers providing supports to people with developmental disabilities are represented by a union - Mowles is actively working to move that number to zero under the guise of 'individual planning' (teachers might recognize that phrase).

There are 10,000 unionized community social service workers that are currently trying to negotiate a new collective agreement since their last one expired over a year ago. Negotiations are apparently not going well as the unions are taking a strike vote.

All of which is to say - Be kind to Social Development Minister Harry Bloy: he is being squeezed on one side by Finance Minister Kevin Falcon who has always despised the people who take money from government (unless it's his business buddies), and being given carefully screened and selective information from senior program managers... plus, Bloy himself is only about 1 or 2 IQ points above being eligible to receiving CLBC supports.