Cuts to Persons with Developmental Disabilities far from ‘lovely’

Well, now I’m mad as hell. “If any of this affects the safety and security of their loved ones or puts them at risk . . .” and “The province has already warned Albertans there will be sacrifices” are direct quotes from the Advocate.

Re. Advocate story headlined Parents urged to reject PDD service cuts:

Well, now I’m mad as hell.

“If any of this affects the safety and security of their loved ones or puts them at risk . . .” and “The province has already warned Albertans there will be sacrifices” are direct quotes from the Advocate.

Service agencies or private service providers would never consider putting their precious charges at risk, budget cuts or not.

Red Deer North MLA Mary Anne Jablonski, by the time safety concerns have been brought forward to your lofty level, individuals with developmental disabilities will have been exposed to danger for far too long.

Sorry, but the previous warnings of “sacrifice” don’t hold much water in my books. We must not, as a society, impose sacrifices on individuals, many of whom can not advocate for themselves.

Who are we to suggest that deep cuts don’t “interfere with the safety and health of the people they supported or their well being?” This is not a privileged population with much fat to trim. Many of these people do not have the ability to cry out for their rights.

It may not seem like much or appear important enough to government officials. These officials have larger discretionary spending budgets each year than the average person with a developmental disability is allotted. Funds required to support persons with developmental disabilities are very valuable. These funds allow custodial guardians a much-needed break.

These supports enable individuals to survive in semi-independent living situations and allow people with limited ability to access what we all take for granted. These services aren’t luxuries to be slashed when the money is in short supply, but they are the necessities that everyone needs to function well.

The service cuts were indeed “voluntary” for guardians, just like the conscription crisis was “voluntary” decades ago. Some individuals who are provided services by PDD will be fine getting by with more client to staff ratios, due to the excellent abilities of the staff, but how long will the staff survive before they burn out with a greater workload?

As a society, we need to be sensitive to staff, families and individuals that are barely hanging in there with already limited support.

Persons with developmental disabilities are not all lovely, Hollywood beauties with the ability to integrate into our society. Some are loud, drippy, immobile, uncommunicative or difficult. We, as grassroots workers, care deeply for them all: the good, the bad, and the surly. We must consider people, not corporate bottom lines. Many of these folks will not cry out for justice, but anyone reading this can. Write or call your government and express your feelings on the subject.

Brenda Raven

Red Deer

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