I am writing to express an opinion regarding the closure of Michener Services in Red Deer. From a financial point of view, it makes sense. There are dollars to be made and saved by closing Michener. The provincial government knows this and it’s the very reason that they wish to close it.
There was a time when the only option open to parents of handicapped children was to place them in institutions such as Michener. Historically, large institutions were no more than storage facilities where we kept people “out of sight, out of mind.” These institutions lacked humanity and provided no dignity to their inhabitants.
As an institution, Michener too has it’s dark past. During its eugenics program between 1946 and 1972, 2,844 residents were sterilized by their own government. This was evidence as to how handicapped persons were perceived and treated at that time.
Historically, it was wrong to shut people away because they were perceived as different and it is wrong today. All handicapped people should be welcome into our communities. All people have a fundamental right to access available services to assist them to live normal lives of their choice.
The non-handicapped have a responsibility to ensure this right is supported. Many of those remaining in Michener spent most of their lives residing in appalling conditions with no legal or human rights afforded to them. It was only just over 30 years ago and prior to the Dependants Adult Act that those residing in Michener had no one legally responsible to ensure that they were afforded with full rights as citizens of this country.
Things have changed and improved since then. The majority of residents have returned to the community and live as normal a life as possible. Today the few remaining individuals left in Michener no longer suffer the indignities of the past. They reside in group homes or homes on the units where they are provided with all amenities of a modern home with support and care that is equal or better than other options available in our community.
It is only now that the residents enjoy full rights as human beings, but now the provincial government has the audacity to want to move those who are left.
After what we did to these people, they deserve to be compensated for past treatments and trauma suffered. That compensation should be in the form of allowing them to spend the rest of their days in their homes.
Can you imagine how you would feel and react if the government decided to move you from your home and neighbourhood for the sake of saving money.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that there are moral humanistic motives for the closure. It’s all down to saving money. Humans don’t count in this equation.
Brian F. Spencer