Small changes at CLBC are not enough: critics
Bethany Lindsay, ctvbc.ca
Published Friday, November 18, 2011 2:53PM PST
The province's social development minister is promising "immediate and focused attention" on a handful of problems at Community Living BC, but says further change will have to wait.
Stephanie Cadieux revealed the results of an interim report into CLBC at a press conference Friday, and acknowledged that the agency "has lost sight, at times, of its core values" of serving people with developmental disabilities and their families.
She said that she has asked CLBC to immediately stop group-home closure unless families agree to other care options, as well as to improve communication and decision-making with clients and develop early care plans for 18-year-olds.
But no other concrete action will be taken until the minister receives the results of an internal audit and a report from a deputy minister's working group. Both are expected by the end of the year.
"We know that changes need to be made, but we need to ensure that any changes we make address the real problems that families are facing and do so with as little disruption to families as possible," Cadieux said.
Critics say that's not good enough, and an external body needs to review the agency.
"I didn't hear anything new from that interim report, and I think that's what going to disappoint a lot of people. There are people who are struggling, and there are people who are in dire straits right now, and they want to see action, not just words that we've heard already," NDP critic Nicholas Simons said.
Right now, 2,800 British Columbians are waiting for CLBC services, and it's estimated that it will cost $70 million to serve all of them.
Cadieux said that funding may be one of a "variety of reasons" for the problems faced by CLBC, but more money isn't necessarily the answer.
"We're not sure what the solution needs to be," she said, adding that the two reports yet to come will shed more light on funding issues.
But advocates for the disabled say that real change will be impossible without huge increases in funding.
"I would hate to think that our province thinks that they can run this ministry with the budget they have now," said Kimberley Yanko, whose son is developmentally disabled.
"There are people sitting on a wait list a mile long. How can they help these people with the amount of money you have now?"
Families across the province have complained about cuts to CLBC programs and group home closures for months, and the organization has taken flak because of hundreds of thousands of dollars in bonuses paid out to top managers to keep costs down. Cadieux has already ordered an end to the incentives program, calling it "inappropriate" for an organization that is supposed to serve people.
The CLBC's new CEO, Doug Woolard, says that an internal audit team will also review allegations that senior managers who hand out home-share and care contracts to relatives and friends are guilty of a conflict of interest.