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B.C. adds $6 million in funding for disabled
Social Development Minister Harry Bloy says he's found an extra $8.9 million to help developmentally disabled people with urgent health and safety needs, but family groups and the Opposition New Democrats say the money is only a Band-Aid that does little to help those struggling after group home and service cuts.
Bloy announced in a statement Tuesday that he has heard the concerns of individuals and families who are asking for more government help.
He said the government will contribute $6 million and Community Living BC, the Crown agency that manages services for people with developmental disabilities, will contribute $2.9 million, raising Community Living BC's budget to $710 million.
Community groups have been calling for a budget increase of $70 million.
"It's discouraging," said Faith Bodnar, chief spokeswoman for B.C. Community Living Action Group. "It's a start, but it is an immediate Band-Aid rather than a solution. We need the government to give a much more substantial lift."
For the past two years, the government has been more concerned with budget than what's in the best interests of people with developmental disabilities, she said.
Rick Mowles, the Crown agency's chief executive officer, said every branch of government is facing tough financial times and he was satisfied with the $8.9 million budget increase.
"It's unrealistic to think that any one ministry or one Crown agency could get a 10-per-cent increase in its budget," he said at a news briefing in Vancouver.
"Health is only growing at four per cent, so we have to continue to innovate and we have to continue to find different ways to serve people."
Bloy did not attend the news briefing, but issued a statement that said the government has been listening to people and families.
"The care, comfort and well-being of developmentally disabled individuals and their families is a key priority for Community Living BC and this government," said Bloy's statement.
Bloy's ministry said Community Living BC provides support to more than 13,600 adults with developmental disabilities.
The ministry said support through Community Living BC can range from a 24-hour supervised group home to home supports, depending on each person's unique needs.
Doug Woollard, a vice president at Community Living BC, said the Crown agency is looking for living options for people beyond placing them in group homes that are staffed 24 hours a day.
He said many people can live independently in communities with support systems provided by Community Living BC.
"The shift to the new approach enhances community inclusion and maintains or enhances their quality of life," Woollard said.
Opposition New Democrat Jenny Kwan said she has been working with families and individuals in her Vancouver-Mt. Pleasant riding who are in turmoil over service cuts.
"The announcement today doesn't do it," she said. "Families and the people who are the most vulnerable in our communities are going to suffer."