Watchdog Hammers Ontario’s ‘Hands-Off Stance’ with Adults with Autism, Down Syndrome

In his long-awaited report, Paul Dubé said he found a fragmented, overly complicated system of service agencies and funding programs, and a baffling lack of flexibility from officials at the top.

Ontario Ombudsman Paul Dubé’s hard-hitting report, called Nowhere to Turn and based on more than 1,400 complaints from families, includes 60 recommendations. Hamilton Spectator
By Andrea Gordon and Laurie Monsebraaten

Queen’s Park must fix its “deeply flawed” developmental services system to ensure Ontario’s most vulnerable people in crisis are no longer left to languish in hospitals, nursing homes, homeless shelters and jails, the province’s Ombudsman said Wednesday.

In his long-awaited report, Paul Dubé said he found “a fragmented, overly complicated system of service agencies and funding programs, and a baffling lack of flexibility from officials at the top.”

He hammered the government’s “hands-off stance even in crisis situations” for putting people with complex disabilities such as autism, Down syndrome, fetal alcohol syndrome and mental health conditions at risk. Many “extreme and egregious” cases highlight the need for dramatic reform.

Dubé’s hard-hitting report, called Nowhere to Turn and based on more than 1,400 complaints from families, includes 60 recommendations. Among them is a call for the Ministry of Community and Social Services to intervene in crisis cases and ensure disabled adults are not returned to abusive situations or housed in hospitals, nursing homes or other inappropriate places.

He said Minister Helena Jaczek has agreed to implement all his recommendations, “including those that require the government to take the lead in fixing systemic problems provincewide.”

Dubé’s predecessor André Marin launched the investigation in November 2012 following a spike in complaints from families in crisis, and headlines about parents leaving their children at respite centres for good because they were too old or sick to be able to care for them.

Initially, the report had been expected within six months to a year, but the process was repeatedly delayed as complaints poured in. They came from families unable to manage behaviour of adult children, and others with kids stuck for years on wait lists for everything from direct funding to pay for supports, to group homes.

Two years ago, the province announced it would inject $810 million over three years to get rid of wait lists for the 21,000 children and adults then awaiting funding. The money also went toward adding 1,400 spaces for residential care and easing the transition for adolescents leaving school, where they can stay until age 21.

But despite reducing wait lists, there are still 5,800 adults on the wait list for Passport Program funding and 9,700 awaiting residential care, according to Ministry of Community and Social Services.

Disabled adults, their families and those in the field had been eagerly awaiting the Ombudsman’s findings, in hopes that will put public pressure on government to provide the money, training and services that have not kept up with demand.

Original at http://www.thespec.com/news-story/6822631-watchdog-hammers-ontario-s-hands-off-stance-with-adults-with-autism-down-syndrome/