The opposition critic for Community Living BC

The opposition critic for Community Living BC

A move they don’t want to make

Provincial government about to close Langley group home

Three middle-aged men with severe developmental disabilities are about to lose their Langley home of nearly 15 years.

Their families are fighting the provincial government’s decision to close the group home and move the men into less-supervised environments, saying the decision could put the public at risk.

The three men, all over 40 years of age, lack impulse control and can become violent outside a structured, stable environment, their families warn.

“There are behavioral issues” said Connie Greenway, mother of one of the three.

“We want them to stay where they are.”

Her son, Darrin has lived in the group home for 15 years.

“They’re comfortable there,” Greenway said.

“We’re hoping by some miracle they will be allowed to stay”

Greenway said Community Living British Columbia (CLBC), the provincial Crown agency that funds services for adults with developmental disabilities, insisted the managers of the group home reduce their rates by more than 20 per cent.

The managers (who could not be reached for comment), at first refused, then proposed a five per cent cut.

With negotiations at an impasse, the families have now been told they must choose between two other facilities, both offering less supervision, according to the families.

“For a few dollars the’re going to destroy my son,” said Ken Materi, father of one of the other two group home residents.

His son is capable of violence when he is stressed, Materi warned.

“He has a police record.”

Materi added that his son is doing much better since he was placed in the Langley home.

Materi’s daughter Diana Mills said her brother and the other two men have bonded over the years.

“They consider each other like brothers.”

Mills said the families feel they are being pressured into accepting a less-than-ideal option because the BCLT isn’t willing to consider leaving things as they are.

“It seems like this is a foregone conclusion”

In response to a Times request for comment, CLBC issued a written statement which said the situation at the Langley group home was an “exceptional situation where our business arrangement with the service provider is changing and CLBC does not own the home.”

“CLBC worked diligently for over a year to reach an agreement with this service provider [before deciding to move the men],” the statement added.

“CLBC is aware of the residents’ needs and is committed to working with the families to ensure the individuals continue to receive appropriate supports that meet their disability-related needs.”

The province has increased funding to CLBC for operations every year since its creation in 2005, investing a total of more than $3.5 billion, the statement added.

That claim is contested by the opposition critic for Community Living BC, Powell River — Sunshine Coast NDP MLA Nicholas Simons.

Simons said CLBC’s own statements show the amount of funding for each client has dropped every year since 2006, from $51,183 to $45,320 and it will drop further because the agency is trying to cut $22 million from its budget.

And the government’s numbers also show that CLBC has closed 63 group homes since 2009, Simons added.

He called the Langley case a “blatant” example of cost-cutting at the expense of quality care.

The provincial government can’t claim that parents of patients are being consulted when it won’t consider leaving the men where they are, he said.

“They’re told ‘your choice is this bad option or that bad option’,” Simons commented.