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Community Living Guelph Wellington set to suspend day programs, lay off staff due to lack of funding

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A disability services and support organization for adults may soon have to end its day programs due to a lack of funding.

Community Living Guelph Wellington (CLGW) says it will have to lay off staff too if the province doesn’t provide an influx of cash soon.

Families who use the program say they were told as of Dec. 4 the day program will be suspended, along with EmployMEnt Options.

Sylvia Quinn’s 53-year-old son, Sean, really enjoys the day program.

“I’d say the staff that works for Community Living are wonderful and I don’t know what I’d do without them,” she said.

Quinn and her son, who has Fragile X Syndrome, may soon face that harsh reality.

“Since he has autistic tendencies, he gets into a routine, so it’s going to take a lot to get him back,” Quinn explained.

In a statement to CTV News Kitchener, the organization said this situation has been developing for quite some time.

“We are in this position due to historical underfunding,” CLGW Board Chair Janet Kaufman said in an emailed statement. “Since 2009, CLGW has not received a budget increase to address inflation or rising living costs. Even more concerning, many of the people we support have gone 17 years without an increase in their ministry-allocated budgets. We are expected to provide support using funding decided upon nearly two decades ago.”

Brian Patience has a 40-year-old son named Michael who lives with Parkinson’s disease and is excited to go to the day program Mondays through Fridays.

While the program is only supposed to be temporarily suspended, Patience and his family are worried it won’t return.

“It doesn’t give us much of a break either because we need to recharge once in a while,” he said. “We suffer from burnout and depression.”

The Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services (MCCSS) tells CTV News Kitchener they are working with CLGW to identify service pressures and come up with strategies to manage them.

“In 2022-2023, the province invested approximately $3.3 billion for developmental services, an increase of $734 million from 2018-2019,” an email from MCCSS reads in part. “Further, effective April 21, 2022, the government made the temporary wage enhancement permanent through the creation of the Personal Support Workers and Direct Support Workers Permanent Compensation Enhancement Program. This increase applies to eligible full-time and part-time workers delivering publicly funded direct support services in the social services sector.”

That might not be enough to save the beloved programs at CLGW.

With time running out, parent Michelle Almeida says her 30-year-old son Matthew, who lives with cerebral palsy, will be losing out on a sense of community, as well as the connections he’s made with other participants.

“You know how people feel when they lose their job, they lose their sense of self, they lose everything. They feel miserable. I feel like my son is losing part of his life,” Almeida said.

As for Quinn, the stakes couldn’t be higher considering her age and concerns for her son’s extreme isolation.

“This is my biggest fear. What would happen to Sean? I’m 87 and I can’t look after him anymore,” Quinn said.

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