Social development minister Sheila Cadieux pushes for changes

The minister responsible for Community Living B.C. insists improved services for the developmentally disabled requires open communication

The minister responsible for Community Living B.C. insists improved services for the developmentally disabled requires open communication.

North Okanagan agencies that provide services say they have little role in establishing contracts and CLBC often dictates the terms.

“We need to do better as a government and CLBC needs to do better,” Stephanie Cadieux, social development minister, told The Morning Star.

“CLBC has recommitted to putting families and individuals at the centre of decision making.”

Concerns have also arisen over increased staffing levels at CLBC’s Vernon office and whether that it is actually leading to service enhancement.

“Staffing levels change depending on need,” said Cadieux, who was not aware of the situation in Vernon.

To address complaints over CLBC’s actions, including policy changes and management bonuses, the government has initiated a 12-point plan.

“There’s definitely a level of caution in that support,” said Cadieux of the feedback she is receiving from families and service providers.

“I’m hearing it signals a positive move.”

The  plan calls for an expanded family role in planning for loved ones, improving collaboration across government ministries, an increased focus on employment training and an appeal mechanism for families and individuals who have service concerns.

“It took time for the problems to develop and time for us to investigate the problem and determine what needs to be done,” said Cadieux.

“It’s not a quick fix. It’s a sustainable long-term plan. We will have better planning tools in place so we don’t face challenges in the future.”

As part of the plan, the government has provided financial assistance.

“This is a $40 million injection of money on an annual basis,” said Cadieux.

The $40 million includes $18 million for CLBC operations, $12 million for case load increases and $10 million for day and employment programs.

Some critics have suggested the funding isn’t sufficient to meet the needs of the developmentally disabled and some of the $40 million has been previously committed, but Cadieux stands by her ministry’s actions.

“There is a significant amount of new money going into CLBC,” she said.