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NEWS RELEASE · 27th September 2010
BC NDP Caucus
After promising people with disabilities and their families that no one would be forced from their home, the B.C. Liberal government has started quietly closing the doors to group care homes for people with disabilities, say the New Democrats.

“Minister Rich Coleman has assured people that adults with disabilities would not be forced to move out of their homes if the resident or the family was opposed to it. But just as with so many other promises, Minister Coleman and the B.C. Liberals have broken their word. It’s infuriating,” said Shane Simpson, the critic for housing and social development.

“Families are worried for their loved ones. Everyone deserves a safe and welcoming home. But now people with disabilities are being forced from their homes, and some of the most vulnerable people in our communities are having to pay the price for the B.C. Liberals’ broken promises.”

The Ministry of Housing and Social Development has ordered Community Living B.C. – the agency responsible for care homes and similar services – to cut $22 million from their budget. In what’s being called a ‘redesign’, using a policy still in draft form, staff are restricted to using fill-in-the-blank assessment questionnaires to decide whether to move individuals out of care homes and reduce costs, without regard to clients’ or their families’ wishes.

“The B.C. Liberal government seems much more concerned with slashing funding to make up for their election budget lie than the best interests of the most vulnerable people in our society. Staff have even been told they must ignore a patient’s past or future needs, which is incredibly short-sighted given that adults with developmental disabilities require stability in their lives,” said Dawn Black, the MLA for New Westminster.

“Families have told me that they have not been consulted and that now, after an inadequate needs assessment, their loved ones are being pressured to leave group homes against their will,” said Black.

In the legislature this past spring, Minister Coleman assured British Columbians that he and his staff “don’t do forced moves” and that the ministry is “not closing group homes and just forcing people to move into other redesigns.” Yet, Simpson noted, that is exactly what is now happening.

“Equally appalling is the fact that this whole process is going ahead even though the policy is still in draft form – there has been no meaningful consultation with experts, with care providers, patients or their families. It’s the height of arrogance for the B.C. Liberal government to claim it knows what’s best for these people, many of whom have lived in these care homes for over 20 years, without consultation or adequate research,” said Simpson.

Simpson noted that residents in care homes have the benefit of support workers and the companionship of other residents, but now many are being moved into individual living arrangements against their will, where they face isolation and reduced services.

“As parents of adults with disabilities get older, they worry about what is going to happen to their children in the future. The last thing they want is for their children to be isolated, without the companionship and support they desperately need,” said Simpson.

“Minister Coleman must live up to his promise and consult with these families and with experts. Adults with disabilities should be given the support they deserve to live fulfilling lives, whether that is in a group home or an independent living arrangement.”