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Ontarians with Developmental Disabilities Continue to Wait

July 23, 2014
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Automatic-QualificationWith an annual budget of nearly two billion dollars, why do Ontario social services run so slow?

The answer is simple: demand outweighs supply.

Thestar.com reports that there are so many children, teens, young adults and adults who need developmental disability services in Ontario that some wait lists span the next four years.

This is unacceptable to many people. Without social services like day programs, group homes, training for support workers, respite care and more, Ontarians with developmental disabilities are not able to engage in society and feel like they are part of the community. For instance, Gloria Noseworthy, mom to Zachariah, a 23-year-old with autism, has been waiting three years to secure adult support services for her son. She says, “I can’t have him sitting at home alone doing nothing. He needs to be in the community and actively engaged in something meaningful for him.”

Many Canadians can relate to Gloria. They find themselves or loved ones on long wait lists, too. In fact, at this time there are 9,000 Ontarians in Community Living Ontario group homes, and another 12,000 names appear on waiting lists for beds.

In April, Ontario announced, “direct funding for 21,000 people with developmental disabilities.” When all is said and done, this comes out to an 810 million dollar commitment over the next three years. When added onto the current annual budget of 1.7 billion dollars, it seems like Ontario should be able to ramp up social services in no time. However, recent reports say long wait lists will continue for another two to four years.

Now, only three months since the investment was announced, Community and Social Services Minister Helena Jaczek says changes laid out in the original proposal will take twice as long.

Many Ontarians wonder why. Andrea Horwath, an NDP leader tells The Star, “I don’t think it takes much to expand services when the infrastructure is already there . . . this is one of the things I think is frustrating for people.”

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Frustrated. Tired. Tapped out. Broke. Feeling alone. Ontarians with developmental disabilities are justified in their feelings on this matter. They’ve been waiting for years to receive services in a province that is just now building up adequate support measures.

With a budget so large, why didn’t they start sooner? Who are the 21,000 people who will receive government support? Will agencies positioned to help people with developmental disabilities get a piece of the pie?

These are the many questions Ontarians are asking in response to the latest instalment of the Star’s Autism Project.

We only know a couple facts are certain. First, Ontarians with developmental disabilities are waiting for services. Now that the pledge has been made public, we turn our eyes to the Select Committee of Developmental Services and the Community and Social Services Minister. We hope they make great strides to help people with developmental disabilities by setting up strong systems of social service.

Second, we know Canada needs to make this right. We hope Ontario succeeds.

The National Benefit Authority always strives to promote people with disabilities. If you dislike this article or find it to be inaccurate, please share why in the comment section of this post.

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