Michener Centre to remain open says Premier

Premier Jim Prentice said today that Michener Centre will remain open. He made the announcement in a news conference at Michener Centre this morning.

Premier Jim Prentice said today that Michener Centre will remain open.

He made the announcement in a news conference at Michener Centre this morning.

The decision comes after months of calls to keep the centre open from family members, other political parties and even Red Deer Progressive Conservative MLA Mary Anne Jablonski.

The cries to halt the closure became more vehement after reports that five Michener Centre residents died within months of their transfers.

The Red Deer centre houses the severely developmentally disabled. The government of former premier Alison Redford announced its gradual closure in March 2013.

“All Michener residents will be permitted to live out their remaining years in the place that has long been their home among people whose embrace they have enjoyed for many years,” Prentice said.

“We have seen the dedication and caring that our frontline staff have for all Michener residents. We respect, and are grateful for, the work of staff and the disabilities community to provide these residents with housing options and to move closer to their families in modern community living only when they are ready to do so.”

Jablonski said she was elated.

Heather Klimchuk, minister of Human Services, said: “To date, 46 former Michener residents have transitioned to community living.”

Klimchuk also said Alberta Infrastructure is working closely with the community on future site planning and this consultation and planning process will continue.

The remaining residents will be housed in a consolidated setting on the south side of the site.

Residents who were moved out since the March 2013 announcement will be allowed to return if they and their guardians wish.

“We’re pleased the new premier understands the value in Michener Centre and that he’s willing to live up to the province’s 2008 promise to keep Michener open for those who wish to stay,” said Alberta Union of Provincial Employees’ secretary treasurer Jason Heistad in a release.

“Many living at Michener have been there most of their lives. They now know they can stay and that’s made them and their loved ones very, very happy.”

Heistad said the past year and a half has been tremendously difficult.

“The announcement to suddenly close Michener without any consultation was shocking,” said Heistad. “Those living at Michener are among the most vulnerable in our province. They need the support only Michener Centre and its staff can provide. To take all that away with no warning, after the government promised residents they could stay, was cruel and it didn’t sit right with people.”

Scores of community members attended rallies in support of Michener Centre in Red Deer and Edmonton, thousands put up lawns signs in support of Michener and Keep Michener Open volunteers marched in Red Deer’s Westerner Days parade in July 2013 and 2014. A variety of public groups, including Red Deer city council, asked the province to keep the centre open.

Wildrose Human Services and Seniors critic Kerry Towle said: “Today’s news is a monumental victory for the residents of Michener Centre, their families and all those who fought so hard to have the decision to close the facility reversed.”

But the Innisfail-Sylvan Lake MLA souned a note of caution: “It is my sincere hope that the PC government has seen the error of its ways and that this is not merely a decision made for political reasons. It’s imperative that the PCs learn why closing Michener was the wrong decision in the first place to make sure nothing like this happens again.”

More details to follow.

Just Posted

Red Deer’s osprey cam celebrities are back

FortisAlberta has webcam set up at nest created as part of avian protection program

Red Deer PCN Women’s Fun Run introduces Community Diaper Dash

Central Albertans will make a dash in diapers to bring lunches to… Continue reading

Several Red Deer businesses’ phone/fax lines taken over by ‘spoofers’

Same ‘prank’ calls were made as happened with RedCliff RCMP

School council association wants funding review

Funding needed to build more Red Deer schools

Opinion: Schools can’t be exempt from scrutiny

This weekend’s meeting of the Alberta School Councils’ Association promises to be… Continue reading

Bishop now the Stars goalie trying to beat Blues in playoffs

Ben Bishop grew up rooting for the St. Louis Blues before being… Continue reading

Nashville gets its chance to step up for NFL draft

NASHVILLE — Broadway in downtown Nashville is as lively a place as… Continue reading

The Cranberries, still in mourning, return for the last time

NEW YORK — Whether or not there would be a final Cranberries’… Continue reading

Dance studio owner in dispute with Burton Cummings fined for noise ticket

MOOSE JAW, Sask. — The owner of a dance fitness studio who… Continue reading

Gardening: Time and effort key to buying garden plants

Greenhouses, garden centers and box stores are set to start selling bedding… Continue reading

Montreal native Nicholas Latifi off to solid start on Formula 2 race circuit

Practice makes perfect for Canadian Nicholas Latifi. The 23-year-old Montreal auto racer… Continue reading

Bruins victory over Leafs ensures an American team will hoist the Stanley Cup

TORONTO — Many NHL players were either not yet born or too… Continue reading

Most Read