Issues & Trends from the Executive Director
It has been a busy winter at Community Living Victoria (CLV).
We continue to grow, with increased demand for us to host direct supports and take on more home shares arrangements. Our WestShore office has added a new coordinator. Community Living Victoria now has a real presence in this community. It is our intention to become more involved in the WestShore and to explore some formal partnerships.
We are very pleased to have received a $10,000 grant from the Doug Flutie Junior Foundation. This will enable Autism Services to partner offering Byte camps which is a series of creative technology computer camps to youth ages 9 – 15 years. CLV is one of only 3 organizations in Canada to receive this grant! In addition, we received $53,000 from BC Gaming which enables us to continue providing family support.
We had a strategic planning session at the end of February involving board members, people we support and staff. There was lively and thoughtful discussion about where the organization should focus over the next 3 years. There will be opportunity for further input as the plan takes shape, but the need to replace another of our homes and find a new location for two of our community inclusion programs was a key direction.
From April 23 -25th, CLV will undergo our fourth CARF Accreditation survey. This is a rigorous process and involves a team of CARF surveyors observing our work, speaking with our staff and the people we support and their families, the Board of Directors and the management team, about CLV. Accreditation has ensured that Community Living Victoria has the systems, policies and processes in place for continuous quality improvement. I look forward to another positive outcome.
In the 2014 Budget presented to the BC Legislature, the Minister of Finance confirmed that CLBC will receive over 70 million in additional annual funding for each of the next 3 years to respond to increased service demand over the next three years as government remains committed to maintaining existing services and responding to new adults with developmental disabilities, FASD and Autism and their families. The government provided additional support for CLBC in fiscal 2013/14 increasing their forecast total revenue from all sources to $791.5 million. For fiscal 2014/15 as a result of the Budget 2014 announcement, CLBC’s total operating budget for 2014-15 will increase by another $35.7 million to $827.2 million. As a result of this commitment, CLBC expects to be in a position to provide new services and supports to over 2,500 people with developmental disabilities, autism or FASD in 2014/15. While this budget investment represents a significant increase, there are continued service demand pressures due to increases in the population served (particularly youth turning 19) and additional service requirements of those already supported due to their increasing disability-related needs. From December 3, 2013 to March 11, 2014, British Columbians were invited to share their thoughts about how government, businesses and communities can better support people with disabilities to fully participate in our communities through the Disability White Paper consultation.
Our current collective agreement expired on March 31, 2014 so our sector once again returned to the bargaining table. A 5 year agreement was reached and ratified in February and Government provided a written commitment to fund the costs. There are wage increases over the next 5 years that move our staff closer toward wage parity with other people doing the same job in other sectors. This will greatly assist in recruitment and retention of staff and the agreement ensures labour peace for the next 5 years.
We continue to focus on employment. On April 1st we are partnering with Work BC, GT Hiring Solutions to host an employment breakfast. This event is geared toward encouraging employers to hire people with disabilities. We hear consistently from individuals that they want to work and while we have close to 60 individuals that we support through Employment Services, there are many more who want a job. CLBC released a 3 year Employment Plan to help increase the number of job opportunities for people who wish to work. A key feature is that the plan sets a target to increase employment of individuals served by CLBC by 1,200 people over 3 years.
We are grateful to our Foundation for their fundraising efforts. A significant amount of money raised went to capital purchases and improvements and to individuals directly. Current Persons with Disabilities (PWD) benefits are $906 per month. This falls below the poverty level. Considering that Victoria has a high cost of living, it is not difficult to imagine that people on PWD benefits have significant difficulty making ends meet. We frequently assist these individuals with groceries and other necessities.
The Foundation is currently working on securing a performer for their fundraising concert in November 2014. The concert will be announced at our annual Thank You breakfast at the Oak Bay Beach Hotel on May 21st. This is an opportunity to roll out the Foundation’s agenda for the year, but primarily is an opportunity to thank our sponsors and supporters and connect them with the cause. The Vipond Royal Colwood Golf Classic Men’s Member guest Event is happening on June 13, 2014 and we are fortunate to be the charity of choice for the third year.
Our Foundation’s direct mail campaign, Reach for the Sun will be in May and is an opportunity to make a real difference to the people we support this summer. Funds raised go directly to individuals to assist them with necessities such as food and clothing, but also toward an activity or event that otherwise could not be afforded. Last year over $15,000 assisted more than 210 individuals through both Reach for the Stars and Sun campaigns.
Thank you for supporting Community Living Victoria throughout the year.