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Letter to the Editor - re: KPMG report

- by Admin User

Winnipeg Free Press

Letter to the Editor

The Province of Manitoba recently released the report by KPMG which has made alarming suggestions that could have profound and damaging effects on the thousands of individuals in Manitoba who have an intellectual disability, as well as their families. Although the government says not to worry as the report is only “advice” some of the content is hauntingly similar to messages the community has been hearing from departmental staff for some time.

The most egregious recommendation is the suggestion the department re-visit what is meant by the principle that individuals with disabilities be supported “to live and participate fully in the community”. We would welcome such a discussion on one hand as the funding available does not currently provide adequate support. But in the context of the report it is clearly a call to provide less and is a chilling prospect for affected individuals and families. The American Association of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD) says this on the topic.

“Community living and participation means being able to live where and with whom you choose; work and earn a living wage, participate in meaningful community activities based on personal interests; have relationships with friends, family and significant others; be physically and emotionally healthy, be able to worship where and with whom you choose; have opportunities to learn and grow and make informed choices, and carry out the responsibilities of citizenship such as paying taxes and voting”.

We assume the department has some respect for the AAIDD as they have imported an expensive and complex funding model developed by the AAIDD called the Support Intensity Scale. However, there is no evidence provided by the government that the AAIDD funding model as they intend to utilize it will support the AAIDD definition of community living and participation. Indeed the message has been the opposite. Coupled with the KPMG suggestion which presumably the department has had for some time, these messages strike at the heart of the community living movement and threaten to reverse decades of progress for some of our most marginalized citizens. Are these the people on whose backs the government wants to balance its budget?

Service providers and advocates in the community have been engaged with the department for months now and yet still do not know the plan for much of the system. Recent events create a need for there to be concrete and meaningful discussion on this and many other outstanding questions.

We remain optimistic that once government re-visits this question and engages fully with the community they will abandon the regressive path they seem to be on.

Stuart Strijack

Chair of the Board -Community Living Manitoba

Unit 6 – 120 Maryland, Winnipeg MB R3G 1L1