Gov't promises to improve disability services
Published Friday, June 3, 2011 7:50AM PDT
After hearing several heartbreaking stories from people with disabilities and their families, the B.C. government says it is taking action to improve funding.
Last week, CTV News aired the story of Melissa Matthews, who has severe mental and physical disabilities. Recent government cuts have cost her the $400 custom-made shoe supports that allow her to walk.
On Thursday, Minister of Social Development Harry Bloy announced that the government's orthotics policy is too restrictive and will be changed. The government will also restore funding for other medical supplies that the government has cut off.
That comes as good news for Melissa's mother, Colleen Matthews.
"That's awesome news. I'm very happy and I'm sure there are a lot of other parents in the province very happy," Matthews said.
Premier Christy Clark also promised action Thursday for the family of a disabled Surrey man who has waited eight years to get into a specialized program.
Jake Creamore, 26, has Down syndrome and autism and is hearing impaired. His family has applied through the provincially funded Community Living BC to get Jake into a day program offering stimulation through everything from arts and crafts to karaoke, but he's still waiting for space to open up.
In the meantime, his mother Helen has had to quit her job to take care of him.
"Jake is entirely dependant. He cannot be left alone, he's totally non verbal, he does not toilet," she said.
"Everything Jake does during the day he needs support -- he functions at the level of an 18-month-old child."
Alanna Hendren of the Developmental Disabilities Association says that the Creamores are not the only ones struggling.
"Increasingly, families are finding they are on their own because they don't have access to programs like this," she said.
The premier told CTV News that the Creamores' situation is unacceptable.
"If the story is as she set it out, that's too long to wait for services and we need to make sure that we're addressing that," Clark said.
Late Thursday afternoon, Helen Creamore said she was contacted by a social worker who told her that Jake is now a high priority for funding.
With reports from CTV British Columbia's Jim Beatty and Mi-Jung Lee