Integration focus for developmentally disabled

Schools are desegregated, and the next step is community, work and retirement

Richard Niesman sorts bottles at Maple Ridge recycling depot

VICTORIA – One of Christy Clark’s first crises as premier was a 2011 revolt by parents and caregivers over money-saving changes to the B.C. government agency responsible for developmentally disabled people.

The CEO of Community Living B.C. was fired after reports of people being moved from group homes into contracted home-sharing arrangements without consent. Waiting lists swelled as 65 group homes were closed, with disabled people living longer than ever before. A government MLA, Randy Hawes, joined opposition critics calling for relief.

A work program at a Maple Ridge recycling facility had its operating funds cut, a decision hastily reversed as the government found an extra $40 million for CLBC’s budget to assist 13,000 developmentally disabled clients. Clark promised a reorganization.

Two years later, Comox Valley MLA Don McRae is the new Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation. He is touring the province during October, looking for ways to deliver that innovation, with an emphasis on finding jobs and homes for as many developmentally disabled people as possible.

Money is still a big pressure, with the government beginning a “core review” to squeeze more savings from all ministries. McRae has already faced criticism from contracted service agencies after their budgets had to absorb a three per cent wage hike for unionized employees.

McRae said in an interview this week he has yet to meet a service agency that has been unable to work through the new budget with help from CLBC. And the agency continues to pursue home-sharing arrangements where practical.

“Society is evolving, and I’ve had the opportunity to visit individuals who want to live in an inclusive environment, in a neighbourhood,” McRae said, adding there is “no push” to move people away from group homes.

McRae is reaching out to employer groups, to build on successful work placements in grocery stores and other workplaces.

“For a person with a disability or not, having a job, and it could be full time or part time, allows you to have a role in society that gives something back, and increases your self-worth,” he said. “I think there’s huge value in that.”

McRae recalls segregated classes from his own childhood. As a high school teacher up until his election in 2009, he worked with integrated classrooms. Work and retirement are the next phases.

That step begins with new oversight. Effective in October, Representative for Children and Youth Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond’s mandate is extended to people moving from youth services to CLBC responsibility, continuing until age 24.

In a pilot project, the ministry has hired four “navigators” to guide developmentally disabled people leaving school, to make sure they don’t fall through the cracks and have the welfare and health support they need.

Another pilot begins in Burnaby next year, with a navigator assigned to help developmentally disabled people adjust to their senior years.

 

Just Posted

Revelstoke Grizzlies celebrate the end of their regular season with awards

Their last game is on Saturday and the playoffs start next week

MP Stetski calls for more funding for rural internet

Stetski says there is a growing digital divide between rural and urban communities

Revelstoke Search and Rescue calls Feb. 11-17

Revelstoke Search and Rescue reports their activities to Emergency Management BC who… Continue reading

Kelowna man in wheelchair following police-involved shooting

“Shots were fired by police and the male was transported to the hospital with serious injuries.”

Penticton woman captures footage of bobcat feasting on bird in backyard

‘Kim Ken Oszinski’ posted photos and videos of the bobcat from just a few feet away

Branching out: learning to ski at Revelstoke Mountain Resort

It’s the first time at the hill for the editor of Revelstoke Review

5 Events to check out at local ski hills

Check out this new column from Okanagan events guru Christina Ferreira

Shuswap police look for suspect in intentionally-set fire

Men help extinguish blaze by kicking snow on it

Former Okanagan fire chief sues City of Vernon after termination

Keith Green’s civil claim says that he believes he was wrongfully terminated

Okanagan man cashes in $500,000 Daily Grand lotto ticket

Penticton resident Harald Naegel won using his regular five numbers

Alberta’s oil-by-rail plan a worry for Shuswap mayor

High volume of train traffic already an environmental/public safety concern

Interior Health sees uptick in calls about measles after outbreak in Vancouver

IH has received an extra few hundred calls about measle immunization and status

‘His kids were No. 1’: Wife remembers man shot dead in Kamloops

Wife of Kamloops shooting victim describes him as loving, hardworking family man

Okanagan biathlete bronzed at Winter Games

Ethan Algra helps Team BC earn medal in Red Deer

Most Read