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Province makes disability services complaint team permanent

Jun 16 2012

People with developmental disabilities and their families can now appeal to a new review team if they have concerns about the services they are receiving from government.

The Integrated Services Support Team replaces a temporary squad of senior bureaucrats set up last year to deal with complaints about Community Living B.C.

The original team proved effective at resolving a number of complicated cases across multiple ministries, so the government decided to come up with a permanent solution.

"We didn't want to lose that," said Mark Sieben, deputy minister of social development, in an interview.

The team will operate out of the Ministry of Social Development in order to provide a measure of independence from Community Living B.C., the Crown agency that oversees service to adults with developmental disabilities.

It's the latest in a series of moves by the government to improve services to people with developmental disabilities after Community Living B.C. came under fire for closing group homes and reducing care to young people once they turned 19.

A series of internal reviews led the government to announce a 12-point plan in January, along with an additional $40 million for services this year.

As part of that plan, the government rolled out a new website this week to help keep families and clients informed of the changes. The website is at www.sd.gov.bc.ca/pwd/isst.html.

"We hope people will find it as accessible as possible, including people who have a developmental disability," Sieben said.

The government is also speaking with a number self-advocates to get their feedback and is looking for people to serve on a committee that will provide ongoing advice.

"I'd anticipate there'd be a mix of family members, advocates, service providers," Sieben said.

"We're committed to having that up and running by fall."

The government says Community Living B.C. will provide supports and services to more than 14,000 people this year - a 5.4 per cent increase since March 31, 2011, and a 37 per cent increase over the last five years.

lkines@timescolonist.com

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