Frank Klees

Press Release

Home and Vehicle Modification Program

                                                                                 February 25, 2010

                            KLEES:   Another $9 million Unaccounted For!

(Queen’s Park) Newmarket-Aurora MPP Frank Klees called for an investigation by the Auditor General into the distribution of more than $9 million under a provincial program that provides financial support to people with disabilities.  The Home and Vehicle Modification Program provides funding to pay for modifications to homes or vehicles to make them accessible.

Klees began his investigation of the program after receiving complaints from constituents about how the program was being administered.

"This is an important program, that provides much needed support for people with disabilities in our community," said Klees. "We have a responsibility to ensure that every dollar is accounted for and that funds are distributed in a fair and equitable way.”

Klees wrote the minister in early January asking for specific information about how funds are allocated under the program and pointing out a number of concerns relating to its administration specifically, he asked for information regarding the number of applications that were submitted from York Region, the number of applications approved, and the criteria on which decisions are made to approve or reject those applications. The minister responded that the data requested “is not collected.”

“Applications to the program are vague, there is no formal medical documentation required with the application, no formal wait list is maintained to ensure applicants are treated fairly and equitably,” said Klees.

"It's apparent to me that this is yet one more program that lacks transparency and accountability. The only way we can ensure that the people who need the support will get it, is to have a transparent application and administration process. The fact that this data is not collected is not acceptable.”

Today, Klees confronted the minister in the Legislature, demanding a full investigation by the Auditor General to ensure the integrity of the program is restored.

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Frank Klees, MPP                                                                               *Hansard attached

416 509 8999

                           

HANSARD, THURSDAY, FEB. 25, 2010

                               Services for the disabled

Mr. Frank Klees: My question is to the Minister of Community and Social Services.

On January 11, I wrote to the minister requesting specific information relating to the home and vehicle modification program. In that letter to the minister, I asked for specific information, such as, first, how many applications were received over the past year from my region, how many were approved and what the criteria is on which decisions are made to either approve or reject applications. The minister did reply to me, but I find her response totally unacceptable. She stated in her letter that she was advised by her staff that the information I requested relating to the allocation of funds is not collected—it’s not collected.

I’d like to know from the minister how she can justify accepting that answer?

Hon. Madeleine Meilleur: Thank you for the question.

Home and vehicle modification is a program that is very-highly subscribed. We have been increasing that budget since we came into power. There’s never enough money in that budget, but what I can say to the member today is that we will continue to look at the program and we will continue to make sure that we add to this program, because if we want people to continue to work or to continue to live in their homes, we need to make sure that these programs are available.

Mr. Frank Klees: Well, under the program, more than $9 million was transferred out by this ministry over the past year.

In my letter, I also pointed out that applications for the program are vague, that there’s no formal medical documentation required with the application, that there’s no formal waiting list maintained to ensure fairness and equity in terms of ascribing this multi-million-dollar program.

So I’m saying this to the minister: Will she agree to ask the Auditor General to investigate how this program is being administered, to ensure that the $9 million-plus are being allocated on a fair and equitable basis and that the people responsible for administering the program are accountable to her and her ministry.

Hon. Madeleine Meilleur: I trust those partners that administer this program. They have an excellent reputation in the community. They have been doing that work for quite some time. They themselves do their fundraising to make sure that the money is there for those who are in need of modification of their home or their vehicle. Like I said, there are more applications, and a lot of them are for senior people. We know that for them to be able to continue to live at home, they need to have their home modified. We believe in the program, and we believe in the partners that are administering the program for us.