| Sep 17, 2009

Back to HomeFeature Article - September 17, 2009 Community Living-North Frontenac AGM: a new year & a new actBy Julie Druker

Don Nielsen, Patty Hallgren and Robin Jones

Community Living - North Frontenac met for their AGM on September 14 at Oso Hall in Sharbot Lake.

President Phyllis Badour summed up the successes and events of CL-NF for the past year, which included a February ice/snow sculpture contest for children; a celebration of the closing of institutions for people with developmental disabilities, the last of which closed in March 2008; the awarding of a student bursary to Tamara Carmichael; hosting the Canada Day games for children in July; and the successful completion of the children’s and teens’ camps that ran throughout the summer.

The meeting included an in-depth speech by guest speaker Robin Jones, program supervisor with the Ministry of Community and Social Services regarding the newly passed “Services and Supports to Promote the Social Inclusion of Persons with Developmental Disabilities Act, 2008” which is set to become a law by March 31, 2010.

Through the new act the government is striving to allow adults who have a developmental disability and their families to gain more independence and choice by allowing them more ways to get the services and supports they need and the freedom to choose what types of services best meet their needs.

The new act will replace the Developmental Services Act, which is 35 years old.

Key changes will include new language and clearer definitions of the term “developmental disability”, with clearer eligibility guidelines.

The act also aims to: clarify the roles of individuals, families, agencies and government; streamline the application or access process by making one application entity; allow more personal choice regarding services and how families and individuals chose to receive their services and supports, along with whether they choose to manage them alone or choose to have them managed through an agency process.

The act will also incorporate a standard information system that will allow for common data collection and storage, making it accessible and uniform across the province. According to Jones, province-wide access to information will be a great help. She explained, “You will be able to compare apples to apples and to see, for example, how many people are choosing what types of services, what waiting lists look like and other relevant information.”

She continued, “The intent is that we will have a better understanding as to what services and supports are needed and the level and complexity of those needs.”

Asked how the new act might benefit agencies like CL-NF Jones answered, “I think the agencies that exist are still going to play a big role because they are helping families access supports and they will continue to do that but there will be more choice and clearer direction on where to go and how to apply and how to access various needs as they change.”

There is a lot of work that still needs to be done before the act becomes a law. The ministry has to develop policy directives and regulations and is looking for input from the public about what these new rules will involve.

Robin said, “In our region what has worked well is the regional office and the agencies working alongside individuals and families to help us plan, so that we know we are meeting all of the needs, and acknowledging and recognizing what are the strengths while also assessing what can be done differently.”

Asked how he felt the new act might impact CL-NF, the agency’s executive director Don Nielsen responded, “I don’t think there is going to be a huge impact on us but the real impact will be on families who will have an opportunity to go to the ministry and say ‘I want the funds directly; I want to manage them and get my own support for my son or daughter' which they can do now through various other avenues but it will definitely give more direct control to families.”

The AGM wrapped up with the appointment of new board members for 2009/10. Seeds and Co. was reappointed as auditor. Doug Yerxa was elected board treasurer after one year’s absence. Shari Tallon was appointed as new board member and Casey Fanning was elected Community Representative for persons served.

Janet Barr also presented the following awards:

--Employer Award to Cindy Warren of the Tip Top Dollar Shop in Sharbot Lake; Employee Award to Lucille Ball, who works at the Treasure Trunk; Employee of the Year Award to Alma (Toots) Whan; Honourary LifeTime Award to board member Patty Hallgren

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