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Block Walk message: Dignity should not be optional

dignity-not-optional-walk-PECDevelopmental services frontline workers in Prince Edward County joined their peers from across the province in a “Block Walk” this week to highlight the need for dignity for everyone who lives with intellectual disabilities, their families and people who provide services.

Last week, a parent threatened to abandon their adult child, this time at Ontario Deputy Minister of Community and Social Services Marg Rappolt’s office.

“I think it is inhumane that any parent be driven to the point of abandoning their child just to get them the much needed services they need,” said Prince Edward County’s Patti Markland, OPSEU Developmental Services Chair. “Waitlists are growing, families are in crisis and it needs to stop.”

“No-one should have to threaten to abandon their child just to access the services they need for them to be safe and well-cared for. There must be a firm commitment from all three parties to properly fund this neglected sector. It doesn’t matter who wins the election,” said Markland. “Dignity should not be optional.”

An All-Party Select Committee on Developmental Services acknowledged the extent of this sector’s crisis in a March 2014 interim report. The committee mandate is to develop recommendations for a strategy to address the needs of children, youth and adults in Ontario with an intellectual disability or who are dually diagnosed with an intellectual disability and a mental illness.

Markland noted a great turnout at the County event and was pleased to see NDP candidate Merrill Stewart join in the walk.

“All three parties agree Developmental Services is in crisis. We have pointed out several times to the government that high staff turnover is an issue in this sector, people coming in and out of people’s homes and lives affects their continuity of care and there is not much the agencies can do about this with the level of funding they receive.”

“Ontario’s developmental services must be addressed during this election. And we expect all three parties to honour the commitment they have made,” said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “The Ontario Ombudsman, Andre Marin, has reported that we are failing families. The number of complaints regarding access to quality developmental services has skyrocketed to well over 800 in 2013-14. Waiting lists have grown to 21,000 people.”

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