The Vernon and District Association for Community Living has been a fixture since the 1950s, and the organization has a strong reputation for providing the developmentally disabled with dignity and respect.
So obviously concerns were going to arise over a supported work program in the Fraser Valley being shut down. Clients, parents and caregivers want to know if a similar situation could arise at VDACL’s Venture Training Centre.
The provincial government has stated no changes are planned for VDACL, but there is a shift towards moving the developmentally disabled from supported programs into private sector employment — “real work for real pay.”
To infer that what VDACL’s clients do isn’t real work is insulting. How many bureaucrats would last sorting through recycling or repairing bicycles? And through these programs, the clients gain self-worth and they contribute to the community.
Other agencies have shut down workshops, and perhaps VDACL is hanging on to an old program model.
It may be time to consider new ways of ensuring clients’ needs are met.
However, we would hope the government won’t impose a one-size-fits-all system on everyone. Some individuals with disabilities may thrive on their own in the workforce, while others require supervised structure. Many VDACL clients have been in these programs for years and a family atmosphere exists.
We take the government at its word that no changes at VDACL are pending, but if the situation begins to evolve, there better be open and transparent communications with the clients, families and the community.
– Vernon Morning Star