The PEI Human Rights Commission public hearings into allegations parents of abuse by the PEI Disability Support Plan ended today.
While the agenda called for two days of testimony by the government to rebut the allegations, the government put on one witness and closed its case.
The Administrator for the DSP, spent a day on the stand first describing the DSP program and its policies. He acknowledged the program’s limitations as “we can’t be all things to all people.” He said it was not an entitlement program. “The program is voluntary” he said. “Persons with disabilities do not have to apply.” He also said that the program while not perfect had undergone at least 8 improvements which he listed.
Under cross examination in the afternoon by Karen Campbell, attorney for the parents and autistic children and young adults, the DSP administrator admitted that the program worked best if you were very poor and had the highest level of disability. If you had moderate income or were less disabled, you would get less support even if the needs were identical. In other words it is a financial based program and not a needs based program.
He also admitted, on cross-examination, that all of the improvements to the program on behalf of persons with disabilities were as a result of Human Rights complaints to the government.
The DSP employee may have misled the Commission when describing how the Screening Tool was used. He claimed the DSP Case Workers would only ask the 18 questions in the 3rd section, the so called Functional Independence Model of FIM. If the client scored low on the 5 cognitive questions, then the Case Worker would back track and ask the Behavioral Psychosocial questions like “Are you sexually inappropriate?” or “Are you self-abusive?”
I had the screening tool administered 5 times in 5 years and each time the Case Worker would start at question 1, page 1 and ask each and every question to the end of page 3. I have tried to skip sections or refuse to answer questions outside of the FIM. I was told that if I didn’t answer each question support would be withdrawn. Perhaps they are trying to cover their trail since I lodged a formal complaint on the form with the Privacy Commissioner. One lie begets another they say.
Counsel for both sides will exchange written submissions until late in March, after which the Human Rights Commission will convene for oral arguments.
I have 60 pages of hand-written notes on the hearings which need to be transcribed over the next little while. I will keep you posted.
Ron Ryder’s coverage in the Guardian has been very good. You might want to read it.