To the participants of our Community Living Mississauga Town Hall Meeting,
It is my pleasure and privilege to report to you on our progress following your Town Hall Meeting held on May 22, 2014.
Following that meeting, we immediately made contact with our local MPP’s to express our concerns about the pressures faced by the families Community Living Mississauga supports and to make inquiries about the plans for the funding announced in the recent budget.
Over the 2014 summer months, meetings were arranged with Harinder Takhar, Amrit Mangat, Bob Delaney and Dipika Damerla. We received varying levels of interest and support.
Notably, on August 15, 2014, I met with Ms. Mangat who kindly offered to promote our challenges and arrange a meeting with the office of the Minister of Community and Social Services (MCSS). Ms. Mangat was able to secure the meeting on November 26, 2014. Myself and Craig Ross,Vice President of Community Living Mississauga Board of Directors (who was the moderator for our Town Hall evening), attended the office of MCSS to meet with policy advisors to the Minister.
The Minister’s Senior Policy Advisor, Johnathan Bradshaw, Deputy Minister Karen Chan and Regional Program Manager, Susan Ross attended the meeting on behalf of MCSS. The following are issues we were able to address:
• DSO – MCSS confirmed they had already hired two new assessors for the region and more hires were expected. We communicated the concern about the higher demand in Peel Region and committed to work through the backlog in Peel. In response to our concerns about the burdensome, inefficient assessment process, MCSS confirmed that they were in the process of streamlining assessments. Anecdotally, we understand that this is already the experience of some families.
• Residential – We strongly expressed our concern that MCSS, in its endeavor to investigate models for residential support, not erode the individual-focused community inclusion model advocated by Community Living Mississauga. We explained the danger of receding into an institution-like setting. To this, we received categorical assurances that MCSS had no such intention, and were much attuned to any risk of eroding the quality of residential supports.
• Day Supports & Passport – We shared our findings from the Town Hall meeting to illustrate the perceptions and service gaps brought forward by individuals and families. We focused on issues such as the lack of resources for individuals with complex needs and families in crisis. They were receptive to these issues but less specific about their direction and intentions. They were able to confirm that the current funding roll-out will address all Passport backlog to eliminate the waiting list, and that a system was in process to identify individuals with higher levels of assessed needs and to increase their funding allocation.
Further to that meeting at the Ministry office in November 2014, the Minister of Community and Social Services along with her Senior Policy Advisor visited Community Living Mississauga’s Argentia Base Site on February 11, 2015. This visit was once again arranged by our MPP Amrit Mangat. The Minister was accompanied by our local MPP’s Amrit Mangat and Bob Delaney. Minister Jaczek met with staff and base site participants during her visit and was impressed with the services provided by this day support opportunity.
Although the base site tour highlighted the positive aspects of our services to individuals who have an intellectual disability, we also had a round table discussion with the Minister, MPP’s and representatives from Community Living Mississauga Senior Management to communicate the challenges faced by individuals and families. One such challenge was expressed by a parent from the Town Hall meeting and her personal story of frustration due to the service gaps were well articulated and passionately communicated by this parent. The Minister attentively listened and appreciated the feedback communicated by the parent with the realization that the frustrations resulting from service gaps is not an isolated occurrence as we stated based on the feedback received from your Town Hall meeting. The Minister was able to leave with a concrete situation that needs to be addressed by her Ministry. The Minister said that she would have this parent’s story as an example of the service gaps that needed to be addressed in the shaping of Ministry policies. Bravo, to this parent that came forth from the Town Hall meeting and delivered such a strong personal message to the Minister!
I believe we have made a positive step forward in addressing the concerns that were expressed by all of you in your Town Hall meeting last spring. Although it does take time to move the wheels of government, I just want to let you know your message has been delivered to the policy makers that will shape the programs/services available from organizations like Community Living Mississauga. As a member of the Board of Directors, and a parent of a daughter who has an intellectual disability, we will continue to advocate for the funding to provide programs and services that will address the service gaps experienced daily.
President-Board of Directors
Community Living Mississauga