NEWS
10/06/2011 07:46 EDT | Updated 12/06/2011 05:12 EST

B.C. Disabilities Waiting List At Nearly 3,000 People

VICTORIA - B.C. Social Development Minister Stephanie Cadieux says she can't guarantee the province will come up with more funding for the nearly 3,000 British Columbians with developmental disabilities who are seeking more help.

Some 13,696 people are currently receiving some government help with their disabilities through the Crown agency Community Living B.C., but Cadieux said Thursday 2,840 are still waiting for more.

She said 2,089 people are asking for more services than they currently receive, while another 751 are not receiving any services from the agency. That group is, however, being supported by the government in other ways.

"I am happy to see the list release from (the agency) about the request for services and the breakdown of what it is that people are requesting and hoping to receive," she said. "I have every belief that we will be able to calm the concerns."

Community Living documents released Thursday show the types of services being requested by those currently receiving none include homemaker, behavioural and skill development.

"There's always going to be requests for more money," said Cadieux. "We're certainly not denying there are challenges — there are."

Last month, the ministry provided an extra $8.9 million to help people with developmental disabilities with urgent health and safety needs. Even so, family groups and the Opposition New Democrats called the money a Band-Aid solution that does little to help those struggling after group home and service cuts.

The new cash raised the ministry's annual budget to $710 million, but the community groups said a budget increase of $70 million was needed.

Shortly after the government increased the ministry's budget, Premier Christy Clark promoted Cadieux to the cabinet post, removing former minister Harry Bloy who had been seven months on the job.

Social welfare groups, family advocates, labour unions and the NDP have been calling on Community Living B.C. to release its service numbers after the closure of dozens of group homes and family complaints about service changes.

Cadieux said the government is facing tough financial times and she doesn't know if the government will add more money to help the developmentally disabled, but she said nobody is being denied help entirely.

In response to the numbers, NDP Social Development critic Shane Simpson said the government is short-changing vulnerable citizens.