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Special needs programs get $6 million boost

by Adam Jacobs


Premier Rodney MacDonald takes some time for Bonny Lea Farm resident Debbie Austin during a recent funding announcement.
 CHESTER - The importance of independence cannot be overlooked, especially when it comes to people with disabilities.

 And Bonny Lea Farm personifies why the provincial government is investing $6 million for services for physically and mentally challenged individuals.

 It's also why Premier Rodney MacDonald said Bonny Lea, home to 35 special needs individuals, was chosen to host the June 17 announcement.

 "Bonny Lea does a great job of treating people with respect," he said. "And because they treat people with respect we're able to see positive results in those who come here on a daily basis.

 "We've changed our philosophy with respect to serving those individuals with disabilities in our province," he said. "And that means more independence, more funding to help those who are in more need. It also means vocational programming."

 Bonny Lea, for example, operates several businesses, such as preserve manufacturing, paint mixing and paper shredding, all of which are staffed by the residents.

 Of the money, $2.6 million will be set aside for vocational day programs providing skills training for about 90 people.

 And although it's yet to be announced by how much, adult service centres will see an increase in their operating grants.

 It also includes an expanded Alternate Family Support with 30 placements for individuals who can be matched with a caring family. In addition, Independent Living Support will expand with 55 placements that help someone learn to live on his or her own with help for up to 21 hours a week.

 Three new community homes in the province will eat up the remaining $3.4 million and house up to 25 persons with disabilities.

 One of those will be built in the Halifax Regional Municipality and will service children.

 The other locations have yet to be chosen said Judy Streatch, Chester-St. Margarets MLA and minister for Community Services.

 "The other two will be for adults and they will be in the western region," she said. "The western region in our division includes the South Shore and the Valley. So, we'll work with landowners and developers to assure we get the property and investigate what works best for everybody."

 The investment will also mean up to 70 new permanent jobs in the province.



posted on 06/24/08
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