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Community Living BC to release waitlist numbers by October 3, 2011

Summary: 
Hon. Harry Bloy, Minister of Social Development, has instructed Community Living BC (CLBC) to make their waitlist statistics public by October 3, 2011. BCACL has been asking for accurate waitlist numbers since CLBC was created.

We believe that open, transparent communication and dialogue between CLBC and community partners - including BCACL, families, individuals with developmental disabilities and community agencies - is essential. We must all have the information that will allow us to work together to understand, address and effectively plan for the issues in our sector.

The Minister revealed his request for waitlist numbers in a letter written to the Victoria Times Colonist. Read Lindsay Kines' article below.

Community Living B.C. ordered to release waiting-list statistics

By Lindsay Kines, Postmedia News September 22, 2011

Social Development Minister Harry Bloy has ordered the release of statistics showing how many people with developmental disabilities are waiting for services across B.C.

Bloy, under fire for closing group homes and cutting programs, has directed Community Living B.C. to release the waiting-list numbers before the next legislative session begins Oct. 3, his office said.

The minister said in a recent letter to the Victoria Times Colonist that CLBC keeps track of all people waiting for help.

"This list is not a lineup out in the cold," he said.

"Rather, it is an inventory of all the requests for services, which can include different or increased services. It is a key document in the planning process for the delivery of those services."

CLBC officials, however, were unable to provide the waitinglist numbers last week at a technical briefing to discuss a $9-million budget increase from government.

"We're working to find a presentable way to put this information forward," said Rick Mowles, the chief executive officer. "We're committed to presenting the information."

Mowles and vice-president Doug Woollard said the majority of people on waiting lists already receive some assistance.

"A much smaller number is people who don't have services and who have urgent needs," Woollard said.

But when pressed by reporters to disclose the numbers, Mowles said: "I don't have them with me."

Advocates for the developmentally disabled said they have experienced similar difficulties in getting information.

The B.C. Association for Community Living has been trying for months to get accurate waiting-list numbers without success, executive director Faith Bodnar said Wednesday.

She said the association will be interested to the see the figures once they are released, but will want details on how the numbers were collected and tabulated.

"I want to know, No. 1, how they got the numbers, and how they determine someone either comes on or off that list. What is the criteria for it? Are people being given something that they need and want, or are they being given a Band-Aid to tide them over?"

Bodnar said it's time CLBC shed its culture of secrecy and began working with families and people with developmental disabilities.

"They're just not coming clean yet and it's going to take a while to rebuild the trust in the community with families and people and the agencies that serve them," Bodnar said.

"There is a huge amount of distrust about the agendas, and the apparent lack of willingness to actually acknowledge that there is a crisis in the sector."

CLBC has been struggling to meet a rising demand for service with limited dollars from the Liberal government. Even with the recent lift, its budget has failed to keep pace.

The agency has been trying to manage the demand by closing expensive group homes, shifting people into less expensive home sharing arrangements, and using the savings to help those on waiting lists. Families, however, have fought back, saying their loved ones are being uprooted from homes where they have lived happy and healthy lives for years.

In the past week, CLBC halted planned cuts to two programs in the face of intense opposition from families.

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