WATCH ABOVE: Parents of adult children with developmental disabilities say the Ontario government is failing their children, and they fear for their future. They say massive wait lists mean they don’t know what will happen to their dependents when they are gone. Christina Stevens reports.
TORONTO — A group of parents fighting for their children’s future have started a movement called “Unshippable,” which is gaining momentum in Ontario.
The parents fear what will happen to their adult children, who have developmental disabilities, after they die.
A residential wait list of 12,000 people means in most cases, their children cannot get into group homes until it is a crisis or emergency situation. Often that is when their parents pass away.
But those group homes can be in far flung cities, disrupting their social support systems and lives.
“That’s the stuff of nightmares,” said parent Martha Fox.
“Does it cost us sleep? Absolutely. Does it make us feel sick to our stomach? Absolutely.”
Her 34-year-old son Matt lives at his parent’s home in Dundas, Ont., and requires 24-hour care.
Matt has been on a residential wait list for 16 years. In Dundas, Matt bowls, does Special Olympics, is a towel boy for McMaster University’s basketball team and works at the university’s fitness centre.
His mom can’t imagine what it would be like for him if he was shipped off to another city.
“It would be the end of the world that he knows,” said Fox.
A financial advisor who specializes in this issue said parents tell him they are scared.
“One of the things they would like to see is more appropriate support from the government,” said Ron Malis.
Currently the Ontario government funds only agencies to run group homes.
Parents in support of “Unshippable” want the government to allocate money directly to each individual, allowing their families to find a solution.
In total, 18 families at Dundas Learning Centre, which Matt attends, want to establish their own residence in empty space at a nearby convent.
But the government does not appear to be interested in direct funding.
“The ministry holds ministry-funded agencies to consistent standards, many of which are set out in legislation and regulation,” part of a statement provided to Global News from the press secretary of the Minister of Community and Social Services read.
“Agencies can balance a broad range of needs and priorities and optimize resources.”
The Ontario government also said it is tackling the wait list with an $810 million dollar investment from the 2014 budget.
Fox said obviously it is not enough, adding that Matt and his friends deserve better.