Adults/Young Adults Advocacy News

MOMS Challenges minister’s efforts to downplay community living complaints

The Minister responsible for Community Living, Stephanie Cadieux, suggested in media reports today that families and other community living advocates have been exaggerating the crisis in BC’s community living sector because only 63 complaints have been filed to date with a new client support team.

  • Read the Minister’s comments in today’s Victoria Times Colonist and Vancouver Sun

The minister said her client support team has ordered CLBC to provide more services after validating more than 60% of the complaints reviewed to date.

  • Find out more about the Minister’s community living client support team and how you can file a complaint.

MOMS has written to the Minister to raise a number of concerns relating to her client support team and her comments in the media.  Minister Cadieux and Premier Christy Clark are still trying to manage the community living crisis as a public relations exercise when what is needed is a commitment to working in good faith with families and other community partners to effect real change.

Read a copy of our letter below:

Dear Minister Cadieux

According to reports in today’s media, you have stated that the crisis in community living crisis “is not maybe as large as some would like us to believe it is” because your new client support team has only received 63 complaints.

We wish to express our disappointment at the disrespect your statement shows for the many hundreds of caring families, caregivers and community partners who have contributed enormous volunteer time and effort, in good faith, to help to identify key challenges in community living and offer positive solutions.

For over a year now, MOMS and other community partners have repeatedly sought to offer you and your predecessors our full support to help address the growing crisis in community living. We are volunteer family members who scramble to find time to give voice to the issues facing families in our provincial network – we have neither the time or interest to manufacture a phony crisis, as your comments suggest. We are also troubled by the continuing disinclination to acknowledge and accept responsibility for the serious, systemic issues in community living or to work respectifully with community partners to achieve meaningful change.

Your comments suggest you believe that 63 complaints to your client support team represent the full scope of problems within community living. That would be an astonishing assumption, given the following:

  • You and your staff have have made no effort to directly inform the 13,000 adults and/or families served by CLBC about the existence of the new client support team and the procedures for filing a complaint, far less the thousands more eligible adults who currently receive no CLBC supports. The existence of this ad hoc team has only been communicated by a press release — there has not even been a letter to families and adults informing them that this is now available.
  • What about the 2,000 people identified as waitlisted for services, hundreds of whom have no services at all despite being confirmed as fully eligible and in need? Are you suggesting that 63 complaints means the other 1,900 are satisfied with CLBC’s failure to provide the help they should be receiving?
  • What about the hundreds of non-verbal adults in CLBC’s care who have no family to call the client support team for them?
  • What about all the families, individuals and care providers who have stated that they are afraid to complain to your client support team because they will be referred right back to the CLBC staff who denied them supports in the first place, and who have been threatened or intimidated into believing that they could lose existing funding if they complain?

The results of your client support team’s work to date raise a further, troubling systemic concern. If over 60% of complaints so far have proved to be valid, how does the Minister expect families, adults and the public to have confidence in CLBC’s ability to do its job? This follows months of families being forced to sacrifice their privacy by seeking resolution of their complaints via the media, with the minister repeatedly over-ruling CLBC decisions to deny urgently-needed supports.

And what does this say about the effectiveness of existing complaints resolutions systems for community living? Weeks ago, Minister, you personally informed us that the CLBC complaints office had a successful complaints resolution rate of over 90%. There is a major discrepancy between the statistics you gave us and the number of complaints now identified as unresolved and/or validated. Unreliable data and statistics – there’s another issue to add to the list.

Finally, while any progress in resolving concerns is welcome, you should know that families have raised many concerns about your hastily-conceived client support team. Many report giving up after finding they are simply referred back to the same CLBC staff who were unable to address their needs in the first place, and who had nothing further to offer. You failed to consult with community partners before creating this client support team as a unilateral initiative. In doing so, you rejected a key recommendation from families, who have asked for a permanent, independent advocate with a transparent, legislated process for addressing individual complaints and systemic issues reporting to government and the public. There has been no discussion and inadequate transparency around the mandate, composition and operating procedures of your ad hoc internal team. Most people don’t know it exists, few trust it and families have expressed concern that this is another piecemeal response that ignores the systemic nature of CLBC’s problems.

Minister, your response to the community living crisis to date has done more to further erode confidence than to restore it. You have refused to work with community partners, you have rejected widespread calls for an open and transparent response, you have sought to dismiss and downplay the crisis at every turn and you have failed to understand the serious and systemic nature of the problems in community living.

But it’s never too late to reverse this. We remain committed to collaborative solutions and urge you to reconsider the recommendations of the BC Community Living Action Group. If you have any interest in working with families going forward, we also urge you to issue an immediate clarification to your quoted comments addressing the above issues.

Dawn Steele & Cyndi Gerlach, MOMS

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