Dear Ms. MacLeod,
We are writing to voice our concerns about the provincial government's decision to cancel funding for Independent Planning Facilitators.
In October of 2018 my son Joseph, who has multiple disabilities, received funding from Developmental Services Ontario (DSO). It took four years for our application to make it through the bureaucracy. The role of advocator, therapist for skill development and resources research has until this point been done mostly on our own. In November, we met our Independent Planning Facilitator, Emerald. In three visits she has helped Joseph to identify goals and recreation options, reviewed his resume, brainstormed places to volunteer this summer, and recommended lawyers experienced with disability planning. Wow. One can only imagine what else could be accomplished with continued service.
You cannot begin to imagine the relief and gratitude my husband and I felt to discover a resource that would help Joseph plan for his future, especially when the time comes that we are no longer able to do so. Now imagine how we feel to have it taken away so abruptly.
A representative from your ministry recently said that families could use the money from the Passport program to pay for a facilitator. The additional expenses related to having a disability far outstrip the $5000 allotted. While waiting four years for DSO funding, we paid to hire and train individuals to help our son learn how to safely navigate the community, the transit system, and work on a variety of life skills. We have paid for speech and language pathologists to provide monthly lessons and assessments, paid for psychological assessments and therapy to help him develop tools to deal with social anxiety, and paid for recreational programs to reduce his social isolation. We have done this because he is our son, and he deserves to develop to his potential. We have gone without many things as a family, so that he could have the best chance to survive and thrive. We are currently using the passport funding to help pay for a bus pass, to be part of supported social groups and organizations that assist with job finding, and perhaps,if there is anything left over, a little respite for us sometime in the future.
“Attacking people with disabilities is the lowest display of power I can think of.” Morgan Freeman
Your government and your ministry has cancelled funding for Independent Planning Facilitation as of March 31,2019. This news has not been released on your ministry website. The DSO agency in Ottawa has just informed us of the cancellation and that you are only accepting public feedback until February 8.
Many families, mine included, spend a considerable amount of energy to assist and better the lives of their disabled child. There is not a lot of extra energy left over to fight this decision, and perhaps that is what the Ontario PC government is counting on.
“The moral test of government is how that government treats... the children; ... and... the handicapped.” Hubert Humphrey
Where are the morals of the Progressive Conservative government? Shame on you for abandoning those who cannot advocate for themselves. Where will you be when they fall sick, become homeless because they need help to manage independent living, or become socially isolated and neglected by their community? The financial costs on our medical and social support system as the result of leaving some of our most vulnerable citizens to fend for themselves will far outweigh the possible cost savings realized by the cancellation of Independent Planning Facilitators.
We urge you to revisit this decision. This program is making a difference in enabling those with disabilities to have a life that has purpose, to have a sense of pride, to be an integral part of the community, and to make a life worth living. Isn't that what life is all about? Isn't that what you are called to do within this ministry?
As our provincial member of parliament and the Minister of Children, Community and Social Services, we hope you will reconsider this attack on some of our most vulnerable citizens.
Karen and Stephen Halchuk
So you can put a face to a name and to show you just one of the people that the government's decision to cancel funding will impact, here is a photograph of our son Joseph.