Move still on for Langley group home residents

Provincial government agency relocates three residents to Abbotsford over family objections

The recent shakeup at the government-owned Community Living British Columbia agency (CLBC) will not change the fate of three Langley group home residents facing a forced relocation.

CLBC CEO Rick Mowles was fired last month (October) amid reports of families being pressured to accept home-stay placements instead of group homes with 24-hour staff.

His replacement, Doug Woollard, acknowledged that there have been cases where CLBC did not consult adequately with the relatives of group home residents and promised the government agency would aim to reach agreements with families before changes are made.

But that has made no difference to the Langley case, where the agency has chosen to transfer three middle-aged men with severe developmental disabilities from their Langley group home to less expensive accommodations, despite resistance from their families.

“It’s all still the same,” said Diana Mills, sister of one of the three men.

“The move is still happening.”

The family has been told the three men will be moved to Abbotsford, likely by the end of November, once the renovations on their new home are completed.

“At least they’re keeping the three guys together,” Mills said.

Some of the support staff will be moving with the men, taking jobs with the new service provider, Mills has been told.

The new group home, like the Langley location, will be in a quiet semi-rural area.

But Mills said it isn’t clear if the new home will have the same degree of security as the Langley residence, which locks down at night to keep the men from running away.

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

Mills said she has warned the new caregivers that her brother is a “runner” who will flee under stress.

Mills has been told the new house will have security measures, including time locks, but she is still worried.

The move was ordered after CLBC, the provincial Crown agency that funds services for adults with developmental disabilities, insisted the managers of the Langley group home reduce their rates by more than 20 per cent.

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.

The opposition critic for Community Living BC, Powell River-Sunshine Coast NDP MLA Nicholas Simons, called the Langley case a “blatant” example of cost-cutting at the expense of quality care.

Simons said CLBC’s own statements show the amount of funding for individual clients 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.

Under opposition questioning in the legislature, Social Development Minister Stephanie Cadieux announced a review of the way all provincial services go to developmentally disabled people.

Cadieux rejected the NDP’s call for a moratorium on group home closures.

— with files from Tom Fletcher/Black Press

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