Wednesday, June 27, 2012


A Retreat Weekend in Niagara – Deepening Your Relationship with God  July 13 -15th 2012

Join me in Niagara Falls at beautiful Mount Carmel Spiritual Centre overlooking the Horseshoe Falls. Treat yourself to a nourishing weekend of reflection and affirmation.

Faith is first and foremost about our personal relationship with God. When we develop and enrich the quality of this relationship, we feel great inner peace and contentment, fully supported and completely alive. This weekend will focus on God's unconditional love for us no matter what is occurring in our lives. God is constantly inviting us to share in His love. He knows our struggles and our imperfections, yet cherishes and delights in who we are. Join us as we learn to forgive ourselves, accept God's loving invitation, and begin to feel His caring daily presence in our lives.

For anyone who wants to get closer to God. A special invitation to those who may have abandoned their faith for a while.

Cost $330

Includes single accommodation and wonderful meals.

Check in before 7:00PM Friday evening to Sunday departure after lunch.

Please register through Mount Carmel before July 9

905 356-4113 or

Thursday, August 25, 2011


Six Steps to Joyful Living

A six session personal development program designed for those who are searching for that spark that will ignite their spirit and renew their zest for life. It answers the question, "How can I have more joy in my life?"

There are two opportunities to take this program:


Wednesday Evenings 7:00-9:30 PM

September 28 through November 2


Central Mississauga


$295.00 for 6 sessions (includes handout and refreshment)

$25.00 deposit upon registration


905 814-6434 or



Three Saturdays 9:30-5:00PM (includes lunch and Celebration of Mass)

October 15, October 29, November 12


Mount Carmel Spiritual Centre Niagara Falls Ontario

Register through Mount Carmel

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Tuesday, March 8, 2011


HAPPINESS: Will I ever find it?

I came that you may have and enjoy life and have it in abundance until it overflows. John 10:10

What makes you truly happy? True happiness always brings us feelings of peace, satisfaction and contentment. You cannot buy it. It does not depend on others or material things. You can take it anywhere. It is the feeling of grinning on the inside. Learn to experience more joy and satisfaction in your life.

Saturday June 11th, 2011 9:30 AM to 3:30PM
Mount Carmel Spiritual Centre Niagara Falls Ontario
Cost $65 due at time of registration before June 3rd
Advanced registration and prepayment requested.
Call Mount Carmel at 905 356.4113

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GOD LOVES YOU. ME? REALLY? A Day of Affirmation.

You are precious in my eyes. I honour you and love you. Isaiah 43:4

Why is it so hard for us to believe that God loves us individually and unconditionally just as we are? We convince ourselves that we are not good enough. All of us are worthy of his love and He offers it to us freely no matter what our current situation in life. Begin to have a deeper appreciation for yourself as you learn to see yourself through God's eyes.

Saturday April 30, 2011 9:30 AM to 3:30PM
Mount Carmel Spiritual Centre Niagara Falls Ontario
Cost $65 due at time of registration before April 22nd
Advanced registration and prepayment requested.
Call Mount Carmel at 905 356.4113

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

New Legislation for Ontario Developmental Services

Bill 77, or the Services for Persons with Developmental Disabilities Act, 2008 will replace the Developmental Services Act which is 35 years old.

This Bill is currently in the hands of the Standing Committee on Social Policy, and is expected to go to third reading in the fall.

Some positive aspects of this legislation include:

  • regional application centres where families would apply for services will provide better coordination of services

  • direct funding options that would enable people with a developmental disability and their families to buy their own supports or choose the services they need from ministry-funded service agencies

There are, however, some concerns as expressed in the two postings below. These concerns have been submitted to the Standing Committee on Social Policy.

The major concern is the fact that 13,400 Ontarians are waiting for residential services, day supports, and services including respite services. This Bill does not guarantee that the rights of these citizens will be met any time soon. Prioritization and waiting lists are, in fact, enshrined within the legislation.

To view Bill 77

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Monday, August 11, 2008

OM 21 Response to Bill 77

Opportunities Mississauga for 21+

Remarks to the Standing Committee on Social Policy, Queens Park
August 5, 2008

Ron Pruessen:
On behalf of Opportunities Mississauga for 21+, we appreciate this invitation to speak to your committee. Our grassroots organization is 8 years old and represents an ever-increasing number of Mississauga families – 150 families by this point. We are the mothers, fathers, siblings, and grandparents of young and middle aged adults with developmental disabilities. In my own case, I am the father of a 31-year old daughter – Caroline – who is both physically handicapped and intellectually disabled.

Our identity as family members is important. Because of who we are, we have profound experience with developmental disabilities: between us, our 150 families have more than 6000 years of experience dealing with people with developmental disabilities. Yes: 6000 years of 24/7 experience. This gives us a special vantage point from which to consider Bill 77 and we have given the bill our close attention.

Our interest is an extension of our serious engagement with the entire “transformation of services” effort. The Honourable Sandra Pupatello, then Minister of Community and Social Services, announced the “study and review” process that has helped to generate Bill 77 at our Annual General Meeting in 2004. We then participated extensively in the public forums that led to the publication of the Ministry’s “Opportunities and Action” document. Indeed, we met several times with previous Parliamentary Assistant Ernie Parsons as that study was being prepared and met, as well, with the Honourable Madeleine Meilleur.

What does our personal experience and our organizational engagement lead us to see?

We want to emphasize two components of our thinking here: On one hand, praise and appreciation; on the other hand, the way in which our positive feelings are being restrained by concerns and doubts.

Positive feelings deserve initial emphasis. Our families were struggling with the severe shortcomings of Ontario’s programs for adults with developmental disabilities before the present government was elected. We know – we really know – how bad the problems were in the 1980s and 1990s. We remember all too well how carefully gathered evidence and clearly reasoned pleas for attention to long-neglected needs were met with callous indifference or empty words. To its great credit, this government has admirably replaced closed doors with open ones and has been gradually convincing many of our members that its heart is genuinely in the right place. Bill 77 suggests the possibility that more recently minted words do not have to simply float away on the wind. We extend our heartfelt thanks for this and say “Well done – so far.”

The “so far” in this praise brings us to the “concerns and doubts” that complicate our appreciation. As we look at Bill 77, our members are quite worried about what we see as elements of vagueness and incompleteness.

We would highlight two examples that are particularly important to us:

Barb Ashcroft:
First, we strongly believe that a milestone piece of legislation like this should include a preamble that clearly identifies the rights of Ontario citizens with developmental disabilities.

My name is Barb Ashcroft and as a member of the Retired Teachers of Ontario (District 39 Peel) Political Action Committee I am here to support OM 21. Our organization is advocating on behalf of seniors and aging parents who find themselves in great stress without sufficient support for residential and respite services for their adult children with developmental disabilities. The adult children of these parents are citizens – no one in this government would deny that – and a bill that seeks to initiate more serious action addressing the problems of this especially vulnerable group of citizens should clearly declare that they are entitled to minimum standards of care and support in key areas. Through the Education Act these young people were entitled to programs and services without prioritization and waiting lists. We wonder why this kind of entitlement no longer exists after age 21 when the individual's disability continues. Given the needs and vulnerabilities of this group Ontario citizens, their right to things like appropriate housing supports should be declared.

Without an explicit recognition of rights, Bill 77 would lack an appropriate grounding – as well as the standards against which progress can be measured.

Ron Pruessen:
Our organization’s second concern with Bill 77 is the absence of budget information – the absence even of words about more abstract budget targets or a projected trajectory for improvements. Problems that have been profoundly neglected for decades cannot be solved without the provision of significant new resources: our 150 families know that – as do thousands of other families like ours across this province.

We would frankly have preferred to have Bill 77 accompanied by budget information. If the budget details are going to come later, as seems to be the case, we have no choice but to be patient – as we have been patient so many times before. But you need to be aware of the fact that we will be watching carefully to see what substantive life will be breathed into this bill. You have brought us to a moment where we now expect meaningful, real progress on the road you have encouraged us to chart with you…meaningful, real progress, in particular, on matters like respite and residential supports for the thousands of families who did not institutionalize children 20, 30, or 40 years ago…the thousands of aging families struggling with the strains and even health problems produced by decades of exceptional responsibilities.
Sheila Swinton:I’d like to help you understand why respite and residential supports and funding are so important to the caregivers. In many of our cases our loved ones are stronger and more energetic than ourselves. Due to the nature of behavioural variances that can and do result in crisis situations we are often left physically and mentally drained. Also due to the aging process of ourselves we have less physical energy to deal with the physical demands required to care for our family members. Often there is a very despairing and emotional strain as well from being constantly trapped because we cannot leave them unattended. Our every move has to be carefully planned and calculated in advance. For example, to do something as simple as step out to the store briefly. And then, of course,having to pay someone just to do that. Also due to our aging it is a concern who will take care of all these responsibilities when we can no longer do it, and we worry about when we are no longer here at all. We desperately need the services related to respite and residential support. We already have in place an assessment process regarding all this, and direct funding or service funding models are already in place, so we don’t need to start over again regarding these areas, but we need to expand funding so that newrespite and residential facilities can be created. These are our main concerns.

Ron Pruessen:
It is a wonderful thing that you have worked with families and agencies to chart a road forward – but it is an achievement that now carries serious responsibilities with it. Do not imagine that the admiration that has been generated by the “transformation” effort will either linger or quietly fade away if words do not translate into deeds. There will almost surely be a whirlwind of disappointment and anger if the government sees the essentially preparatory provisions of Bill 77 as sufficient – or if the government believes the template or the “shell” conceptualized in this bill will allow the “transformation” effort to quietly come to rest on a backburner. Do not imagine, either, that tiny funding increases will allow achievement of a necessarily ambitious vision – especially if minimalist new funding is dedicated primarily to administrative procedures, application centers, and the like. If this happens, then the template or “shell” that Bill 77 is designed to create will be seen as the set-up for a “shell game” – and “shell game” will be a fair and loudly proclaimed label.

To conclude: We urge the government to continue as it has begun – to continue boldly as it has admirably begun. Take the splendid impulse to transform the services provided to Ontario citizens whose needs and vulnerabilities have been neglected for decades and match fine words with powerful actions.

For our part, we will continue to work and to offer praise if you also continue. Families like ours are as ready as we have always been to help devise quality programs that are efficient and cost-effective. We are anxious, in fact, to pair community energies and resources with government resources to create services and opportunities that neither of us could create on our own. (Opportunities Mississauga, for example, has designed a transitional respite and residential program that would allow a group of 12 adults with developmental disabilities to receive significantly improved services with the same dollars that would ordinarily support 4.) We do not expect you to do this alone, in other words – indeed, we do not want you to do this alone – but you must be prepared to go beyond words and administrative changes if partnerships are to succeed in solving very serious problems. What a wonderful achievement it would be to solve those problems. What a terrible failure it will be if you do not now move across the threshold on which you are poised.

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RTO District 39 Peel, Response to Bill 77

Bill 77 Written Submission
To the Standing Committee on Social Policy
From The Retired Teachers of Ontario, District 39, Peel

We are an organization of 2,673 retired teachers (District 39) in Peel Region.

Our organization is advocating on behalf of seniors – aging parents who find themselves in great stress without sufficient support for residential and respite services for their adult children with developmental disabilities. As our members age, they are becoming physically and mentally drained as they try to cope, without adequate support, with the daily physical demands and responsibilities of care giving for their adult children with developmental disabilities. Some have given up submitting requests for a community residential home, as it appears that waiting lists have almost become meaningless as all the spaces go directly to those in crisis situations – that is, to those whose parents have recently died.

We are also advocating on behalf of our former students who are now post 21 years-of- age, and in desperate need of quality day programs for continued learning and development.

We, as former educators, have been designing curricula and working for years to assist and prepare these students for supported or independent community living. We are dismayed that these young adults who have been part of an inclusive school system, partaking in meaningful educational programs, challenging activities and supported work experience, are now for the most part sitting at home. Our members tell us that they have a very difficult time explaining to their young adult children with developmental disabilities why the school bus no longer picks them up. Their adult children are anxious to continue their involvement and inclusion in daily community and lifelong learning programs. We acknowledge the positive intent of the Passport Funding initiative, but we understand that "90% of the applications that were submitted were refused or turned down." (Debates, Hansard 2008-05-26)

With Respect to Bill 77

We strongly believe that a milestone piece of legislation like this should include a preamble that clearly identifies the rights of Ontario citizens with developmental disabilities. Through the Education Act these young people were entitled to programs and services without prioritization and waiting lists. We wonder why this entitlement no longer exists after age 21 when the individual's disability continues.

We are concerned that enshrining the terms "prioritization" and "waiting lists" within the legislation will only perpetuate more of the same lack of service and always be available as an excuse for no provision of supports due to lack of funding. These terms should not be part of any legislation that has at its base a primary goal of "the full inclusion of Ontarians with a development disability in all aspects of society." (Consultations Regarding the Transformation of Developmental Services of 2006 )

We would like to see functional literacy and continuing education courses be added to the list of services in Bill 77 so that those young adults who have the potential may continue their lifelong learning.

A person-directed plan developed with the support of a facilitator should be the main focal point for any service profile, and should be a part of this Bill. We are fearful that the Application Centers may become over-focused on the use of assessments for exclusion of service as opposed to being supportive to the development of person-directed planning.

We urge the Ministry of Community and Social Services to co-operate with the Ministry of Education. The schools have a wealth of assessment information regarding those students who are leaving at age 21. Transition plans are already required by the Education Act. Sharing these assessments and plans will avoid further duplication of paper and time, and, thus, unnecessary use of tax-payers' dollars.

We applaud the Liberal government for the directions and recommendations set forth in the Consultations Regarding the Transformation of Developmental Services of 2006 and for the promise that direct funding holds for families of adult children with developmental disabilities. On the other hand, we wonder how long it will take before these recommendations become a reality. As a province we must act now. According to the Provincial Network on Developmental Services there are 13,400 Ontarians waiting for residential services, day supports and services, including respite services. This is inexcusable. How did the province ever let this get out of control? Institutions have been closing over the past 30 years. Schools have been including students with developmental disabilities since 1982. Was there no one in the planning department to project and budget for future community services? Did no government care enough to commit the funds to continue the required services that a community-based inclusion philosophy requires? Where, in the Ontario government, are the advocates for this vulnerable population? This gap in service must be closed. We can all do better than this. When we are truly committed to ensuring the rights of those with disabilities, we will always find creative ways to make it happen.

As a province we must move forward to guarantee the rights of all citizens especially those who are most vulnerable. When we make the community a better place for those with special needs, we enrich all our lives. No family is ever exempt from disability.

Submitted by:
Barbara Ashcroft, Political Action Committee, RTO/ERO District 39, Peel, (author), and
Jim Challis, Political Action Committee, RTO/ERO District 39, Peel, (chair).
August 11, 2008

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