News Views: Real worth

The provincial government has extended funding for mentally challenged adults working at the Ridge Meadows Recycling Depot for three more months.

After that, they’ll likely have to find other work.

On Wednesday, the province and Community Living B.C. announced $8.9 million to provide priority services to adults with developmental disabilities. That money will provide support and services to 540 people, but it is unclear if that includes the 29 mentally challenged employees in the sheltered program at the depot.

That program has been phased out since a review in the 1990s found it was a not in compliance with the Employment Standards Act.

Community Living B.C. claims the mentally challenged workers at the recycling depot are not paid for all the hours they work, although depot executive director Kim Day maintains that is not true.

Without grant money, though, most of those in the program at the depot will have to find other work, likely in the private sector, if they can.

That doesn’t mean they aren’t doing real work now, because they do. More importantly, the work they do – sorting cans and bottles, paper and cardboard – gives them value, a place to belong and make friends, not just earn a pay cheque. They want to stay. They want to work.

The program has worked for 22 years.

Social Development Minister Harry Bloy says all parties are working to maintain it, but is seems as though CLBC has made up its mind and the program is dead. First, it pulled funding for the program. But after a backlash in the community, the funding was temporarily reinstated.

So instead of losing their jobs now, the depot workers will be let go right after Christmas.

It’s a callous move that affects those less able to help themselves and at a time when everyone knows the province is hurting financially.

Why does every decision have to be about money?

If CLBC isn’t sure that the recycling depot employees are being paid for all their efforts, send Pamela Martin over to do some real work, so she can report to her friend, Premier Christy Clark, the program’s real worth.

– Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News