The B.C. government will launch a project this fall to “re-imagine” inclusive living programs and services for people with developmental disabilities.
Social Development Minister Shane Simpson said the details have to be worked out, but he anticipates a four- to six-month consultation with key players, including service providers, advocates, parents and people living with developmental disabilities.
He expects to release terms of reference in July and begin discussions in September.
Simpson said the collaborative process, which he’s calling “re-imagining community inclusion,” will study services that exist today and consider how they should look in the future. “It’s about reaffirming the vision and then about looking at what the path looks like moving forward to ensure that people have those lives they want.”
The project will examine the work done by Community Living B.C., the Crown agency created in 2005 to oversee services for adults with developmental disabilities.
But CLBC will avoid the type of full independent review that the NDP and others began pushing amid a series of controversies in 2011 and 2012.
“I think we’re in a different time,” Simpson said, citing leadership changes at CLBC and the agency’s new strategic plan.
“So I actually think we’re in the place where we can do this now and bring everybody together. It’s a much more stable and grounded organization than it was five years ago.”
University of Victoria professor Michael Prince, who was recently named chairman of CLBC’s board, was among those calling for an independent review in 2012. He said in a recent interview that he supports the decision to look at community inclusion more broadly — although he acknowledges that there might be a message in his own appointment. “I think the minister, in a way, by asking me, is sending a signal that things will be reviewed and there will be perhaps some changes,” he said.
“I’m not prejudging what those will be. He’s been very professional in saying, ‘Let’s let this process unfold and play out.’ ”
Simpson was unable to say how much the re-visioning project will cost. “I’m hoping that that exercise and process we’ll be able to cover from within our budget and not add any additional costs,” he said. “But we’ll look at that when we see what this looks like. I don’t expect it will be a significant cost.”
Prince begins his three-year term as chairman July 1. He replaces Tom Christensen, a former B.C. Liberal cabinet minister.