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Activists, families rally for more funding for developmental services

Activists are protesting the amount of funding the province allocates to developmental services in the Ottawa-Carleton area.

Around 60 people rallied in from of the Ministry of Community and Social Services building on Preston Street this afternoon.

Among protesters carrying signs were caregivers, family members and those who benefit from these types of services.

In the Ottawa-Carleton area along there are more than 2,100 people on waiting lists for day programs and nearly another 1,000 waiting for residential placements.

"I have a family member that's in need and is in a day program and we're lucky he hasn't been cut yet, but it's coming," said Nathalie Stringer, a national representative of CUPE. "It's coming for everyone and if my cousin gets cut, that means my uncle will have to stop working because they have to take care of him, so one of them is going to have to give up their jobs and they have to get an income because they have other children that are not disabled that need food on the table."

Sue Perry has a daughter who is in a group home and said there isn't enough staff to take her to the appointments she needed to go to.

"Canada is way behind the other members of the G8 group ... in their support of people with special needs, developmentally delayed," she said. "We're way behind and it's time that they came forward and supported this group of people."

Joe Silverman, the supervisor for the Loeb Centre for Vocational Training, told CFRA recent cuts mean they can't provide much-needed services to those who rely on them.

"It means that a lot of our places are becoming like shelter workshops again and we're starting to back the clock 30 years to a time when our individuals were in shelter workshops, segregated settings and not a part of this great community," he said.

Silverman added the ministry only gives out around $5-7,000 a year to individual families so they can hire support workers.

"That might give support for two or three days a year to go to a community centre or a Tim Hortons," he said. "That's not adequate funding. That's not what out individuals deserve. They need to be a part of the community in a vibrant community and they've got a lot to offer."

He said cutbacks at the provincial level have led to 16 layoffs in his association in the past three years and that means many people with developmental disabilities are not getting the personal attention they need.

"The people that look after them are wonderful people and they should be supported," said Perry. "They haven't had an increase in four years, the staff, and it's affecting outings that they can have because there's less staff to take them on outings. I just feel that because they're a group of people that can't always speak up for themselves that the provincial government is sort of using them as a scapegoat and not giving them the increases that they need."

Silverman said the problem is not only in Ottawa, but province-wide.

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