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London NDP MPP urges Wynne Liberals to address assisted-housing shortage

London West NDP MPP Peggy Sattler (far right) meets with Shawn Eyre and his sister Tanya Dallaire to call on the provincial Liberals to address a shortage in assisted housing. Ontario NDP/Supplied

A London man with cerebral palsy told his sister he’d rather exercise his right to assisted death than move to long-term care.

Alex Cha, 48, is currently cared for by his aging mother and has been on the waitlist for assisted housing in London for over a decade.

“Alex has told me he would rather die than move into a long-term care home,” said his sister, Jin Cha.

“For the past decade, we have been in a growing family crisis and we can’t continue caring for him at home. Alex should be able to live the remainder of his life with dignity.”

The Chas were one of four families to join MPP Peggy Sattler at Participation House on Friday to call on the Wynne government to take action to address the severe shortage of assisted housing placements.

Currently, there are only 40 spots at Participation House in the Southwest Local Health Integration Network (LHIN), all occupied, with 60 names on the waitlist.

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“There is an ongoing crisis in access to residential care for people with complex medical needs, and the Wynne government has shown no interest in fixing it,” Sattler said.

Also at the news conference was the family of 42-year-old Michael Belbeck. The Harvard graduate was a national-level runner before he suffered a massive stroke. He has been living in a retirement home as a respite-care resident since late 2014.

His mother, Barbara Belbeck, pays out of pocket for physiotherapy, PSW support, chiropractic care, speech therapy, and other health care services.

“We are emotionally, financially and physically exhausted, with no end in sight,” she said.

Sattler added this crisis is putting an undue burden on families and forcing those with disabilities to live in hospitals or long-term care facilities for the rest of their lives.

“Shawn Eyre, the brother of one of the families there today, has been living at Parkwood Hospital for six years. When you think of the public dollars that are going to enable him to stay there, if we could shift those dollars and enable him to live with dignity in the community where he has friends, and is able to live his life as fully as possible, how much better would that be?”

AM980 has reached out to the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care for comment but has yet to receive a response as of 3 p.m. Friday.

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