Developmental service agencies looking for stable funding to keep from crumbling

By Justine Fraser

A campaign called “5 to survive” is pushing the Ontario government to raise funding for developmental service agencies by five per cent.

They say more funding is needed to keep services operational for people that need them. About 40,000 people across the province are on the waiting lists for services. About 200 of those reside in Guelph and Wellington, where Hopewell Children’s Homes services.

Since 1983, Hopewell Children’s Homes has supported children and adults with developmental disabilities in the Guelph-Wellington area. The CEO, Maria Zegarac, spoke on the Mike Farwell Show Wednesday morning.

“Right now, we are asking for an immediate five per cent bump up in our base budgets.”

“What that is requesting is an immediate infusion of five per cent in funding for the entire sector that represents about 145 million dollars and then on an annual basis we also need inflationary increases,” said Zegarac.

The Ontario government set aside a two point five per cent increase in the budget for 2024 and 2025. However, developmental service agencies are banding together and pushing back.

“The need in our communities and province wide is huge for families with individuals with developmental disabilities,” said Zegarac.

As more people are added to waiting lists, the need for more funding grows.

Zegarac said they have seen agencies like theirs reduce services from a lack of funding, which results in children or adults with developmental disabilities not getting supports that they need to live a healthy life.

“What happens is folks end up using other parts of the community support system like our hospitals and our shelter systems. Homelessness as well would increase, and we know those are already taxed so that would be an additional burden.”

More information about the #5tosurvive campaign can be found online here.

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