Excerpt from the Official Report of
DEBATES OF THE LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY

(Hansard)


October 18, 2011

Motion to halt group home closures

S. Simpson: I am pleased to rise to speak to this motion. The member across the way who just spoke talked about numbers. Well, the reality is this. Of the 13,600 or so people that are registered with CLBC, over 2,800 of those people are receiving either no service or less services than they require, based on CLBC's own estimates. That's the reality. That's the people we're dealing with. There are many out there in the community who would say those numbers are even larger, and that's the challenge we face today.

The members over there talk about choice in terms of group homes, and I would agree with the critic for Community Living B.C. when he says that there are many excellent home shares. Home shares are an appropriate choice for a number of people, but they are not appropriate for everybody. They are not the choice of everybody.

There are many, many people who have been in group homes and have been forced out of those group homes not by their choice, not by their family's choice but simply because they've had their allocation of resources to get services reduced to the amount that they could no longer stay in those group homes. That's the reality of the situation.

That comes back to the comments that the critic made about the guide for service allocation. This is a guide that was developed who knows where, but it's a guide that, for example, says: "We will look at a snapshot of somebody's circumstances today. We will not look at their history, nor will we allow you to look at what their future might hold. We look at today."

Now, how absurd is that? For somebody with a developmental disability, you're not going to consider their past, you're not going to consider the circumstances, and you're not going to consider how their current situation — whether it be a group home or other programs — might have, in fact, improved their lives as you measure their situation today and you look at where they might be in the future. It was a document that, sadly, looked a whole lot more like it was about budgeting than it was about meeting the needs of people and choices of people.

I know that members on this side — every member, almost, on this side — has heard from families in their communities who are anxious and desperate about their loved ones, and I am convinced that I could go member by member, almost, on that side and get the same stories in a private moment.

There are stories about constituents who are coming and saying: "I don't know what's going to happen to my loved one because they're 17, they're 18, and they're aging out. They're with Children and Families today, and in six months they'll be with CLBC, and I don't have a plan for them yet" or "We're caring for our loved one. We have some respite services, but we need more. We need a couple more days a week to make this thing work."

Or they're being forced out of a group home, and that's not what they want. They've been there ten or 15 years. They want to stay in their group home, and they're not having that choice.

I'm sure that members on that side, just like members on this side, are hearing that day in and day out. The reality is this: we have to stop these closures for now. And the other reality is that we have to recognize what's happening. This service is in trouble. CLBC is in trouble. We had a minister removed a couple of weeks ago largely related to this question. We had the CEO of CLBC fired on Friday because of these issues.

[1130]

It's time to look at that organization — an external review to look hard at that organization and get to the solution. Does it involve resources? Absolutely there's a need for resources, but there are other things going on there. I know as well that I've spoken to people involved in CLBC directly. I know others have, who raise those concerns from the inside and say: "We need to have a look at this organization." And that needs to happen.

While that's happening, we need to take the advice of the critic for Community Living B.C. here, halt these group home closures, halt what's going on here, take a hard look. Because I would agree with members over there who said that all of us care about our most vulnerable citizens. All of us care about the developmentally disabled in this province. All of us know that we cannot fix our challenges on their backs. I know that.

We need to halt what's going on, take a good look at this, solve this problem now and move on, but we are not doing that with the way we're going today. I understand the realities behind not getting supported, but I would hope members would support this motion.

I would hope members on that side would go back and talk to the Premier, talk to the minister, talk to their cabinet colleagues, and we can find a way to resolve this. This issue needs to be fixed, and it needs to be fixed now.

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