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Community Living Ontario warns services are at risk without increased funding

Community Living Ontario is ringing the alarm bell, saying if funding doesn’t improve quickly, the well-being of 100,000 Ontarians living with intellectual disabilities is at risk.

“It’s a crisis that’s been 30 years in the making,” says Community Living Ontario CEO Chris Beesley.

CLO represents 117 not-for-profit community organizations across the province that provide services, supports, and even housing for individuals with intellectual disabilities.

Beesley says there hasn’t been any meaningful increase to funding for the organizations since the ’90s.

“Cumulatively, it’s been about 4 per cent over the last 30 years, whereas the consumer price index has gone up almost 60 per cent,” he says.

Beesley says the fallout has impacted the ability to attract and retain staff, and some organizations in the province have had to reduce or cut programs, and even sell properties that were once group homes.

“If you can’t afford to replace a vehicle, you can’t afford to maintain it,” says Beesley.

“You can’t afford to fix the leaky roof because you’ve put that off for 15 years.”

For Community Living Kingston and District, they provide residential supports, 24/7 residential supports, support independent living, day supports, respite, and children’s programs.

Peter Sproul, the organization’s executive director, says they are doing OK so far and haven’t had to cut programs and services, but they are so lean there isn’t any more space for creative accounting.

“The waiting lists are far too long, and they’re growing,” says Sproul.

“Those on the waiting list — so many people have very urgent needs, very urgent needs. They’re in desperate circumstances.”

Community Living Kingston and District, along with all the other agencies in the Community Living Ontario umbrella, have started their #5ToSurvive campaign, calling on the provincial government to provide an immediate 5 per cent increase in funding.

“Five per cent is going to keep the doors open,” says Beesley.

“Give us five per cent right now in recognition of the past 30 years, and then that buys us enough time to at least stabilize.”

Without it, even Community Living Kingston and District, which has managed to balance the books so far, questions how much longer they can hold the line.

“At some point, we’re going to run out of options,” says Sproul.

“It’s going to impact people and communities and families. We’ve got to avoid that.”

That stabilizing funding wouldn’t make a dent in the 34,000 Ontarians waiting for developmental services, but locally, it could prevent 750 individuals and their families served by Community Living Kingston and District from facing the potential loss or reduction to the supports they receive.

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