Halifax Media Co-op

News from Nova Scotia's Grassroots

More independent news:
Do you want free independent news delivered weekly? sign up now
Can you support independent journalists with $5? donate today!
Advertisement

Community Services commitment to Disabilities Roadmap wavers

Phasing out large institutions no longer an objective

by Robert Devet

In 2013 government committed to phasing out large institutions as a place to warehouse people living with developmental disabilities, partly in response to advocacy by first voice activists. Now that commitment seems to be weakening. Photo Robert Devet
In 2013 government committed to phasing out large institutions as a place to warehouse people living with developmental disabilities, partly in response to advocacy by first voice activists. Now that commitment seems to be weakening. Photo Robert Devet

KJIPUKTUK (HALIFAX) – A government commitment to phase out large institutions for people with developmental disabilities appears to be weakening.

New legislation, reflecting the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities will not be brought forward until 2018.

Elimination of a wait list for more inclusive and individualized supports will not occur in the short term. That wait list currently contains 1083 people.

A promise that individuals will receive funding to arrange for their own supports seems to be watered down.

These are some of the highlights from a presentation by Lynn Hartwell, Deputy Minister of Community Services, delivered to the Community Services Standing Committee on Tuesday September 15.

Hartwell, together with Joe Rudderham, Executive Director of the departmental Disability Support Program (DSP), appeared in front of the oversight committee to provide an update on the transformation of services for people with developmental disabilities

In September of 2013, the NDP government made an announcement that many people living with disabilities had fought for. Large institutions would be phased out, and care and funding would become more tailored to individuals. The Department also promised to be more open and inclusive in its planning and policy making.

Sometime after the announcement was made things slowed down.

“There has been frustration with the pace, and the roadmap itself has raised expectations how fast we can move, and we have learned a lot since we started it,” Hartwell told the MLAs. “We are moving at a pace that is in line with the resources that are available and that we believe ultimately will be respectful and inclusive.”

“The timeline and the speed is what I think is different,” Hartwell said.

It appears that at least some of the new directions are more substantial than just timing.

Whereas the original promise was “to phase out” the use of large institutions, new language refers to "creating a new role” for them.

And while the earlier commitment was to no longer refer people to institutions by April 1st 2015, the new direction is to stop permanent referrals by June 2016.

“How can we use the buildings, make sure the well-trained and really passionate staff can be used,” Hartwell said. “Should there be one place where there could be a concentration on stabilization of people in crisis, maybe (somewhere else) there is a real focus on autism, short term.”

Extent and substance of many of the proposed changes remain unclear. See below for the attached presentation.

An earlier promise to work closely with stakeholders has fallen short, Hartwell appeared to admit.

“I don't want to bring people back together and have no progress. So can we please focus on progress and planning and then move forward, always with the idea that we can to a place where people can be part of this again,” Hartwell said.

Hartwell did not explain why first voice stakeholders were not invited to take part in the discussion about shifting priorities that led to Tuesday's presentation.

There will be a so-called DSP Transformation Roadshow for all stakeholders and staff in early October, Rudderham announced.

 

Click here for more articles on the DSP Transformation and related issues.

Follow Robert Devet on Twitter @DevetRobert

 

 

File attachments:

Socialize:
Want more grassroots coverage?
Join the Media Co-op today.
521 words

Advertisement

User login


Google+
Subscribe to the Dominion $25/year

The Media Co-op's flagship publication features in-depth reporting, original art, and the best grassroots news from across Canada and beyond. Sign up now!