Parents, Workers Lament Lack of Funding for Developmentally Handicapped

Mark Ribble, Leamington Post

With the new Ontario budget due out this week, advocates connected to Windsor and Essex County’s Community Living organizations took time last week to meet with the media regarding the lack of funding for supports and services.

Over 400 adults in Windsor and Essex County are on waiting lists for such services and that list continues to grow every year.

Lisa Raffoul is a parent and advocate for the rights of those individuals with intellectual disabilities, and she says enough is enough.

“It’s time for the government to stop taking advantage of the good will of families in these situations,” she said.

Those who spoke were speaking directly to Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan, hoping he will get the message loud and clear.

Bruce Awad, another parent advocate, spoke emotionally and from the heart.

“The stress can take its toll on the family, the marriage and the other children,” he said. “It’s a disaster waiting to happen.”

Awad’s 35 year old daughter, Tina is afflicted with Autism and now lives in a group home, where she gets wonderful care, according to her dad.

“I am one of the lucky ones, but when I see that there are 400 others waiting for any services at all, it makes me sad,” he said.

Awad pointed out that there are numerous elderly parents in this county that have adult children living with them who are developmentally handicapped.

“What’s going to happen to these people when the parents pass away?” he asked.

The provincial government funds the various local agencies through the Ministry of Community and Social Services and the funding in the past few budgets just hasn’t been there.

And Awad is not happy about that.

“They find funding for bridges and roads and those are wonderful things, but where is the funding for the most vulnerable people in our community?” he asks.

Nancy Wallace-Gero, the Executive Director of Community Living Essex County, agreed.

“We’ve been here for over 50 years supporting these families and the government has done wonderful things, but we need to know they hear us loud and clear,” she said.

The waiting list consists of a number of people who get no services at all and will require 24-hour support in some ways. The general consensus is that
it will take millions of dollars to make a dent in the waiting list, by hiring workers and providing existing staff with resources necessary to do the

Raffoul was part of a parents group who met with the Financing Committee for the province to plead their case.

It’s been 10 years since the province has allotted significant funding for the developmentally handicapped. These folks hope that this year will be different.

“It’s the right thing to do,” Awad concluded.

Article ID# 3051468

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