Alberta Seniors and Community Supports Minister Mary Anne Jablonski has a personal and simple way to determine whether the program that supports 9,200 people with disabilities is doing its job.
If a person with disabilities’ only friend is a support staff member then the program has not been successful.
“We have to give that person an opportunity to find friends and live their best life,” said Jablonski in Red Deer Wednesday. “That’s what this is all about.”
Jablonski has embarked on a major overhaul of the Persons with Developmental Disabilities (PDD) program. Last year, people using the program, their families, guardians and service providers were approached to get their views on updating the system. That effort led to the creation of six priority actions to ensure the program meets the needs of Albertans.
Red Deer was Jablonski’s last stop in a three-day tour to meet the boards representing all six regional Persons with Disabilities community boards and explain what the government hopes to achieve in the next year or so.
Jablonski wants to more clearly define the mission and core business of the program. A new eligibility regulation was introduced in August to determine who gets support.
Along with that, a common assessment system will be put in place to determine the amount of support individuals need. “So the way you’re assessed here will be the way you’re assessed in any other part of the province.”
Besides ensuring that individuals have enough support the assessment system will determine whether someone is getting too much help and is not becoming as independent as they could be.
Efforts will also be stepped up to give families more flexibility in managing their own supports, rather than having them managed through the PDD program.
Jablonski also wants to improve supports for those with complex needs avoid duplication.
Like all government department, Jablonski has been asked to find savings in programs to help the government deal with a record deficit. About $28 million from the $600 million program budget.
The money will be found while having the least possible impact on those served by the program, she said. Some will come out of administration and about $10 million will be pared out of a $24 million staff recruitment and retention initiative.