Dis­abil­ity Sup­port Pro­gram gets new name, larger scope

Journal Pioneer - - NEWS - BY STU NEATBY

Fam­ily and Hu­man Ser­vices Min­is­ter Tina Mundy says ex­panded sup­ports an­nounced Thurs­day for peo­ple liv­ing with men­tal ill­ness have noth­ing to do with a court rul­ing ear­lier this year. In Fe­bru­ary, the P.E.I. Court of Ap­peal con­firmed a find­ing by a hu­man rights panel that the provin­cial dis­abil­ity sup­port pro­gram dis­crim­i­nated against peo­ple with a men­tal ill­ness. “This started way be­fore that de­ci­sion. We had started this process over a year ago,” Mundy said, ex­plain­ing the prov­ince had been plan­ning mod­i­fi­ca­tions since 2007 and work had been on­go­ing be­fore the court rul­ing. Mundy made the com­ments dur­ing an event at the Fitzroy Cen­tre Club House Thurs­day, where she an­nounced the Dis­abil­ity Sup­port Pro­gram would be re­named Ac­cessA­bil­ity Sup­ports. The ex­panded sup­ports fol­lowed an an­nounce­ment by Mundy last spring con­firm­ing that Is­lan­ders with men­tal ill­ness would be el­i­gi­ble for dis­abil­ity pro­grams. The im­ple­men­ta­tion of these new pro­grams will be ef­fec­tive as of July 16. Ac­cessA­bil­ity Sup­ports will now be avail­able to peo­ple with all types of dis­abil­ity, rang­ing from men­tal, phys­i­cal, in­tel­lec­tual, neu­ro­log­i­cal or sen­sory. Case work­ers will use an as­sess­ment tool to help de­ter­mine el­i­gi­bil­ity for sup­port based on how much the dis­abil­ity af­fects the per­son’s daily liv­ing. In ad­di­tion, the prov­ince will es­tab­lish a toll-free num­ber as the main point of con­tact for ac­cess­ing ser­vices. Staff will aid in­di­vid­u­als in nav­i­gat­ing avail­able sup­port ser­vices. In ad­di­tion, in­creased fund­ing will be avail­able for mod­i­fi­ca­tions of the home or ve­hi­cle of in­di­vid­u­als liv­ing with a dis­abil­ity. The amount avail­able for home mod­i­fi­ca­tion will be in­creased from a $2,000 lifetime al­lot­ment to $10,000 ev­ery 10 years, while the amount for ve­hi­cle mod­i­fi­ca­tions will be in­creased from a $2,000 lifetime amount to $6,000 ev­ery eight years. Prince Ed­ward Is­land was the last prov­ince in Canada to pro­vide dis­abil­ity sup­port ser­vices to in­di­vid­u­als with men­tal ill­ness. Amanda Brazil, di­rec­tor of pro­grams and pol­icy for the Cana­dian Men­tal Health As­so­ci­a­tion, wel­comed the changes. “We’ve been ad­vo­cat­ing for a num­ber of years to have men­tal ill­ness in­cluded in the dis­abil­ity sup­port pro­gram. To see it ac­tu­ally come to fruition is very ex­cit­ing for us,” Brazil said. Mil­lie King was the orig­i­nal com­plainant, on be­half of her daugh­ter, Laura, in the suc­cess­ful P.E.I. Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion case against the Dis­abil­ity Sup­port Pro­gram. Laura was de­nied ac­cess to pro­gram­ming from Dis­abil­ity Sup­port. King said the sin­gle point of con­tact, as well as the added staff sup­port for nav­i­gat­ing ser­vices was a pos­i­tive step. But, she said she was con­cerned that as­sess­ments of men­tal health needs may be con­ducted by staff who lack the proper qual­i­fi­ca­tions. “My ex­pe­ri­ence was, when I went over to dis­abil­ity sup­port, I’m talk­ing to work­ers that don’t have the ed­u­ca­tion or the ex­per­tise to ad­min­is­ter those kinds of tests or tools,” King said.

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