Beverley Pomeroy
The ‘Informal Institutionalization’ of People with Disabilities

I am up in arms, I will say that right off the bat, before you read any further. Day after day, night after night, I am watching stories on the news, reading articles in the newspaper of how families of disabilities, and those who have them, have to fight…fight for their fundamental human right and their Canadian right for access to healthcare, for a home, for the simplicity of dignity, citizenship.

More and more I am coming to the conclusion that if you have a disability in Canada, you are a second class citizen. And in some cases, like this story, you don’t even have citizenship. A group home in Richmond is being closed down because their contracts have been ‘terminated’. Terminated by CLBC, this group home has had some residents call it ‘home for 15 to 20 years!!
The reason for the contract with the home to be terminated, because “Carla Thiesen, CLBC director for the Fraser region, admitted CLBC wanted the company that runs the home to do it for less”
The service provider refused to do it for less and while I don’t have all the details of what ‘do it for less’ means, I am not sure in today’s economy we can do anything for less, much less provide group home support with an already ‘hack and slash’ model of developmental disabilities support in communities.
Here is an excerpt from a letter that was forwarded to me and sent to media:

In a report prepared by the BC Non-Profit Housing Association Research Department in 2006, targeted to explore housing options for developmental disabled adults in BC, the report revealed that there were 20,130 developmentally disabled adults in the province of BC in 2006. In addition, there were another 1175 adults with developmental disabilities on a wait list to be placed into housing.

You will see in the CLBC report and Minister Bloy’s response that the percentage increase in adults qualifying for Community Living funding is increasing at about a 5% on average rate each year.
In addition, the Minister has indicated in his letter to Jane Dyson, a provincial advocate, " I (Minister Bloy) would like to emphasize that there are no forced moves out of group homes. Some group homes may close due to people aging and individuals requesting different housing options in their communities". In fact management and staff were told that the Williams Road Group Home is closing and that transition plans need to be compete on all four residents by the end of August for a qucik move before the house sits in October.
There are a number of documents that have been done in recent years around housing for those with disabilities.
We can sit here and debate what is the right model for housing, what options are the most financially viable. The debate will continue for years to come even as new models around shared housing / co-housing begin to arise from countries like the UK and Australia.

At the end of the day, it is about respecting the wishes of those who are affected by a disability and the desire of their families to ensure they are safe, cared for. Which is what the Williams Rd home was doing for the past 20 years for the residents that call the house ‘home’.

Residents and staff were notified of the termination on August 12th by the house manager.

We may have terminated formal instutions in our Country but learning of this story makes me realize we have developed something I am calling the ‘informal institutionalization’ of people with disabilities in our province by the mere fact CLBC can come in and yank people out of their home with a few weeks notice. Appalling.

Please forward this blog and the article to both Minister Harry Bloy and the opposition critic for Community Living Nicolas Simons