Issues & Trends from the Executive Director
Our 63rd annual general meeting was held on September 19, 2018. A highlight of this meeting was the annual employee recognition awards for years of service. This year we recognized 8 employees who had between 15 and 35 years of service! We also recognized 21 employees who had reached 10 years of service.
On September 25th, we welcomed the people who live at Burnside back to their newly renovated home. They are thrilled with their fully accessible, spacious home. On October 25th, the individuals from the McRae home then moved to the Gorge View home on Wascana St. This fully accessible home will meet the needs of the five people now and in the future. We also purchased a beautiful building in January 2018 for our Satellite Community Inclusion program, renovations are beginning in January. This location will also provide office space for our Home Share and Host Agency coordinators.
Our 12th annual concert for Hope Help Home, featuring Larkin Poe, was held on November 16, 2018. This sister, rock and blues duo from Texas was a huge success and along with a silent auction and a draw for the Gift of Flight anywhere WestJet flies, raised significant funds for Community Living Victoria. Thank you to our Foundation for all their support.
On December 3, 2018, we co-sponsored the United Nations’ International Day of Persons with Disabilities Film Festival in Victoria. The Inclusion BC Foundation and BC Self Advocacy Foundation chose short films featuring people with intellectual disabilities. The films were followed by a discussion with self advocates and conversation exploring themes and reactions to the films.
Another highlight of our search for affordable housing is that we have retained M’akola Development Services to explore the possibility of a mixed housing development on our Cedar Hill Cross Road property. We met with the neighbourhood associations and a member of the Saanich Heritage committee in August and they showed preliminary support for our project. We submitted an application for seed funding in December that if successful, will enable the project to move forward. We were also pleased to sign an agreement with the Capital Region Housing Corporation in January 2018 that will result in a commitment of six subsidized units over the next three years for the people we support. To date that partnership has resulted in 2 units for families we support. Finding affordable housing in Victoria is an increasing challenge, and we want to be part of the solution.
Our Community Services programs are designed to help people who live more independently. We are able to support many creative and individualized services, but we also see people facing significant challenges. For example, some individuals are starting to face greater aging, health and mobility issues but without the support that is provided in our homes and Community Inclusion programs. The need to manage these increasing support needs puts pressure on our Community Services programs. Our advocacy resulted in some additional hours or other changes in supports. Other complex issues that some individuals face include evictions, mental health, and alcoholism, lack of affordable housing and cost of living increases.
A deal was reached for the collective agreement that sets out the terms and conditions for our unionized employees for three years, beginning April 1, 2019. In addition to continued labour peace throughout the sector, the wage increases over the life of the Agreement will go a long way to address the recruitment and retention challenges.
We value and benefit in many ways from Inclusion BC’s provincial advocacy and continue to support its advocacy efforts. This work has resulted in better outcomes for the people we support. For example, this year saw a $100 increase in disability benefits (PWD), to $1,133, effective September 2018. Inclusion BC continues to advocate for further increases to PWD, as the increase, while welcome, does not provide for significant improvement for people who rely on provincial assistance. Also this year, compensation was extended to Woodlands survivors who lived at the institution prior to August 1, 1974, and who had previously been denied any payment for systemic abuse.
We are pleased to be co-hosting Inclusion BC’s annual conference and AGM in May 2019 and look forward to welcoming delegates from across the province to beautiful Victoria.
The demand for services from Community Living BC continues to be greater than the available resources. In addition to the individuals mentioned above who are facing age-related issues, many people have other complex issues that make supporting them increasingly challenging, which in turn is putting great pressure on service providers and funders across BC.
This year we lost more of our senior families, some of whom were founding members of Community Living Victoria. It is so important to remember our history and recognize the foresight of these families who had a vision of a different life for their sons and daughters.
Our Reach for the Stars campaign was a success and ensured that the people we support and their families enjoyed a good holiday season. Thanks to all our sponsors and supporters. Together we make a difference.