Ontario Agencies Supporting Individuals with Special Needs
Ontario Agencies Supporting Individuals with Special Needs

Developmental Services Leaders Welcome Ombusdman’s Investigation

TORONTO, Nov. 30, 2012 /CNW/ – OASIS welcomes the investigation of the Ontario Ombudsman into Ontario’s services for adults with developmental disabilities. OASIS is a network of over 160 agencies that provide these services funded by the Ministry of Community and Social Services across Ontario.

The developmental services organizations have had their funding frozen at 2009 levels in the face of compounding inflationary costs and legislative requirements such as provincial Pay Equity legislation.

“Our services are being stripped away, resulting in reduced quality of care and increased risks to staff and the people who rely on our services. At the same time, wait lists for services are increasing at an alarming rate. The US economy isn?t the only thing heading towards a fiscal cliff.” says Jane Joris, Volunteer President of Agencies Supporting Individuals with Special Needs (OASIS).

Just last week, leaders from over 165 adult developmental services agencies met to discuss the results of a province wide study assessing the impact of operating pressures on the developmental services sector. The meeting was part of a province wide session hosted by Ontario Agencies Supporting Individuals with Special Needs (OASIS).

“The data is crystal clear: inflationary cost pressures, labour unrest, and a 4 year funding freeze are rapidly eroding our ability, and the ability of our staff, to provide the highest quality of care to vulnerable Ontarians,” said Michelle Marshall, Executive Director.

Even in the current economic pinch, government spending has continued to increase in recent years, keeping pace with inflationary rising costs, but not within developmental services. Funding for the adult developmental services sector has been frozen at 2009 levels compounding the pressures on province wide waiting lists that currently exceed 19,000 vulnerable Ontarians. Even the Drummond Report, released earlier this year, and laying out a strategy towards a balanced provincial budget including cost reductions across many publically funded services, acknowledged the need to continue to increase spending on social programs each year.

“We’re at a crossroads. These pressures are pushing our agencies towards a precipice. It’s not just quality of care that is at risk I worry about the health and safety of our staff,” continued David Ferguson, Executive Director.

The government will tell you that this year they have invested 25 million dollars in services for people in crisis. However, most of those funds have addressed the government’s need to transition children aging out of the services funded by the Ministry of Children and Youth into adult services funded by the Ministry of Community and Social Services. Families such as those profiled last week on the CBC’s The National continue to struggle while on waitlists of thousands and thousands of people. There are more people waiting for services than there are receiving services in this province.

“We understand the difficult economic situation facing our province. That’s why we’ve worked collaboratively with the government to identify efficiencies, close institutions, and help return Ontarians to their home communities to be with loved ones, in turn further containing costs,” said Joris.

“As a society and as taxpayers, we have to ask ourselves if it is acceptable that families in Ontario experience the isolation and stress that we saw on CBC’s The National last week. There are many many families across Ontario in similar circumstances. It really comes down to how much money the taxpayer and the government are prepared to invest in our families and people with developmental disabilities.” concluded Joris.

For more information about OASIS member agencies, please contact OASIS President, Jane Joris at [email protected]