The brother of a Michener Centre resident, concerned that a forced relocation would lead to his sibling’s premature death, will seek a court opinion next month as to whether his family can continue to block any move from the facility by withholding consent.
Claiming the province does not have “equal or better facilities” in place to transfer Michener Centre residents into, Brian Reed said Thursday he believes he and his parents have a right to deny consent for any move of brother Bruce to a community group home. In an effort to legitimize that belief, he will appear at Red Deer’s Court of Queen’s Bench on Dec. 6 to obtain the court’s opinion on the matter.
“I want the court to give its opinion on whether a guardian has an absolute right to withhold a move of an individual if he thinks anxiety, physical harm, or premature death could be the result of this move,” said Reed, of Lomond, a village southeast of Calgary.
The action is available to guardians under the provincial Adult Guardianship and Trusteeship Act.
Under the act, if it is deemed that a guardian’s decision is not being “given effect” and health and safety is at risk, the court can “make any order the Court considers necessary and appropriate” including authorizing police to assist the guardian “in doing anything necessary to give effect to the decision.”
Reed serves as the alternate guardian for his 51-year-old brother, with his elderly parents as the primary guardians. He said neither petitions nor shaming the government — regarding its March decision to shutter parts of Michener Centre and transition 123 residents from the facility into community group and seniors homes — have worked and he believes the court process could establish the primacy of the guardian’s wishes with respect to adults under their care.
A separate judicial review of how the closure decision was made will take place in court in March. The Society of Parents and Friends of Michener Centre, a group made up of Michener guardians that filed the request for the review, hopes the process will force the government to detail how it diverted from its 2008 pledge in the How We Move Ahead report that no resident would be forced to leave Michener Centre.
Reed’s brother is severely disabled and has lived in Michener Centre for 46 years. Reed said his brother gets very anxious when away from his “comfort zone” at Michener and that if put in the care of unfamiliar, inexperienced caregivers, his health would be at risk.
“He knows where he lives. He knows what his routine is. I sincerely believe, without any sort of doubt, that moving him, he would be gone within a year.”
Reed said he could be willing to consent to a move for his brother if it were clear he would be going to a facility offering equal or better care. But he said the government has demonstrated through its transition team’s communication with his family that those places do not yet exist.
He added that if his case is successful, he expects many other guardians would seek to go the same route to fight the closure edict.