Do the math

Op­po­si­tion al­leges province spend­ing less on dis­abled Is­lan­ders than it promised to

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - PROVINCE - dstew­art@the­guardian.pe.ca Twit­ter.com/DveSte­wart

Gov­ern­ment promised more money for dis­abled Is­lan­ders and is ac­tu­ally spend­ing less, the Op­po­si­tion al­leged Tues­day.

Op­po­si­tion MLA James Ayl­ward pointed to a line item in the Depart­ment of Fam­ily and Hu­man Ser­vices bud­get, which seems to show gov­ern­ment is pre­pared to spend less money on the dis­abil­ity sup­port pro­gram (DSP) than it did last year.

One of Premier Wade MacLauch­lan’s elec­tion prom­ises was to in­crease fund­ing for the DSP. The pro­gram as­sists Is­lan­ders liv­ing with a dis­abil­ity to over­come bar­ri­ers and live as in­de­pen­dently as pos­si­ble.

The line item in­di­cates that gov­ern­ment forecast it would spend $13,115,800 in 2014-15 but only es­ti­mates spend­ing $12,605,900 this year.

Ap­prox­i­mately1,500 Is­lan­ders are cur­rently get­ting help through the pro­gram.

“Look­ing at the bud­get num­bers com­pared to what they fore­casted and es­ti­mated, there is a fairly sig­nif­i­cant vari­ance,’’ Ayl­ward said. “They made it a ma­jor is­sue and said they were go­ing to have another $550,000 there but yet when I look at their cur­rent bud­get line, the money is sim­ply not there.’’

Health Min­is­ter Doug Cur­rie con­tends his depart­ment has not cut fund­ing to dis­abled Is­lan­ders.

Cur­rie said it’s just a mat­ter of mov­ing the money around in con­junc­tion with prom­ises made. Those prom­ises in­cluded in­creas­ing fund­ing to home ren­o­va­tion pro­grams that help low­in­come Is­lan­ders and fam­i­lies, as well as Is­lan­ders liv­ing with a dis­abil­ity.

Cur­rie specif­i­cally men­tioned money has been re­al­lo­cated to help pay for hous­ing sup­port pro­vided by com­mu­nity part­ner groups.

“It’s go­ing up sig­nif­i­cantly,’’ Cur­rie said.

How­ever, the Op­po­si­tion was quick to point out that not ev­ery DSP client gets hous­ing sup­port.

Ayl­ward said Cur­rie is just spin­ning the truth.

“It’s a life­line for many peo­ple. If (the money) is not there peo­ple are re­ally go­ing to feel it.’’

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