Community Living Brandon is an advocacy organization which supports, promotes and facilitates the full participation, inclusion and acceptance, by the community, of people who live with an intellectual disability.
The Brandon Sun provided information about the excellent Neelin program for youth (Dec. 7), and profiled a young woman diagnosed with autism who is benefiting from the program as she prepares for a self sufficient life in her community.
The independent living skills which are developed in the Neelin program and in other Brandon high schools for students with intellectual and physical disabilities should be a stepping stone to a continuum of supports and resources which will assist students leaving the school system to access residential and vocational opportunities.
Any student leaving high school looks forward to their future; to continuing to learn and grow; to achieving increasing levels of independence and autonomy.
In Manitoba currently, the agencies that support adults with intellectual disabilities are facing a crisis which prevents them from adequately responding to the needs of adults with intellectual disabilities. The government of Manitoba has refused to respond to requests for a reasonable wage for the staff supporting this population.
Wages have been lower than for those doing the same work in other sectors — health-care aides, educational assistants, etc. — at $12 an hour. This has resulted in an unstable workforce which is constantly turning over as staff leave for higher wages, often in health and education. This in turn creates constant training of staff, stress for individuals supported and an inability to move ahead with individual plans as staff are retrained.
The low wage has created difficulty recruiting staff, and when staffing shortages exist, care becomes a concern.
It is short-sighted to underfund services for individuals who are capable of moving towards independent living, and contributing to the diversity, life and economy of their communities. The person with a disability and their families have historically not had a voice in raising awareness about inequities, but the current situation has caused great concern about the future ability of agencies to meet the needs of this vulnerable population.
For more information about this issue see CLBrandon.com.
Community Living Brandon
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition December 11, 2013