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Foundation for disabled says closing of Michener Centre mishandled

RED DEER — A not-for-profit group that works with people with developmental disabilities says the Alberta government is mishandling the closure of Michener Centre in Red Deer.

The province has earmarked $10 million to move 125 residents from the centre for the mentally and physically disabled into community-based living arrangements.

The Lo-Se-Ca Foundation is trying to move three residents to a new home in St. Albert.

Foundation director Marie Renaud says getting answers on how the transition will work and how the money is being spent is very difficult.

According to the province, some of the money is going to severance costs at the Michener Centre.

Naresh Bhardwaj, Alberta’s associate minister of services for persons with disabilities, says the money is also going toward new facilities and training.

But Renaud says the needs of the people being moved are not being addressed.

“These men have lived their lives at Michener,” she says. “They were put in that institution as children and they’ve been there ever since. So they get $1,000 and likely their bedroom furniture to move out and to start again.”

Bhardwaj says it’s important the communities are well-equipped to provide services for the residents as they move out.

“As they grow older their needs are going to change and we know that, and are we going to be able to provide the needs with the new capacity we are building?”

So far, 14 people have moved out of Michener Centre; another 18 are expected to make the move over the next month or so.

Bhardwaj says the government’s goal is to make sure each person receives equal or better care than they’re already receiving.

“We are absolutely committed that no one will move until an appropriate home has been found for them,” Bhardwaj says.

It’s a goal the Lo-Se-Ca Foundation is onboard with, but says is difficult to reach without clear guidelines on the process.

“The way that this is being managed is just another example of building Alberta in an incorrect manner,” Renaud says.

 
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