Central Albertans with developmental disabilities will see programs meant to help give them productive lives cut as part of a provincewide reduction from the Alberta government.
Alberta Council of Disability Services members were disheartened to have the Department of Human Services announce that it would reduce the provincial Persons with Developmental Disabilities (PDD) budget by $42 million as of July 1.
It reports it will have a profound negative impact on the health, safety and well-being of individuals and families who rely on these services.
The Alberta Council represents all service providers, including day homes, respite care and facility based-programs, who have contracts with the government.
Ron Bos, spokesman for the Central region of Alberta Council of Disability Services, said the budget cut is huge and will hurt various service providers.
“And it’s being done without a plan that we know about,” said Bos.
“It’s difficult for all of us providers to plan for and for families not knowing what will happen.”
Bos said that they found out during the 11th hour in the provincial budget documents on March 7.
“We consider our community access programs quite successful,” said Bos.
Many of these adults have other disabilities (and often fragile mental and physical health) and these supports ensure essential care such as getting to medical appointments.
Some of these people volunteer, some have employment. Without proper funding, these people won’t be able to do these kinds of things, said Bos.
“The supports we provide allow them to get out into the community and attend doctor and dentist appointments, to learn life skills in our day programs and generally do other things that Albertans get to do,” said Bos.
With these kinds of financial cutbacks, Bos wondered how this will affect the government’s decision to move 125 residents because it is closing Michener Centre in Red Deer. The plan is to place them around Alberta.
“It would mean creating new capacity because there’s not a lot of new right now,” said Bos.
The government announced it would set aside $10 million to help build or renovate existing group homes for those from Michener.
“At the same time, they’re reducing funding and community access, which will have ripple effects on residential programs everywhere,” said Bos. “In fact, the residential capacity may be reduced, but it’s difficult to tell. We just have that one $42-million cut.”