Stop the exodus from Michener Centre before there is more tragedy

It has now been 17 months since the government announced it would be shutting down the Michener Centre in Red Deer.

It has now been 17 months since the government announced it would be shutting down the Michener Centre in Red Deer.

The pain, anxiety and frustration it has caused the residents, many of whom who are severely disabled, is completely unacceptable.

There can be no question that shuffling around of highly fragile individuals has created untold horror stories and declining health outcomes for clients.

Recently, it was announced five former Michener residents had passed away after being moved. The fact these wonderful individuals had to go through the traumatic experience of being ripped from their homes in their final days is nothing short of tragic — our condolences go to all the family members involved. This is not how these individuals should have been treated.

But let there be no question: family members of those remaining at Michener are left hearing these stories and staring at deadlines of impending closures and judicial reviews with no end in sight.

Despite the outcries from family members, the warnings from health professionals and the backlash from the community at large, the Progressive Conservative government just keep plowing ahead with the closure.

Just imagine the stress this is causing.

And the uncertainty of the PC leadership contest has created a vacuum of leadership throughout government, paralyzing our current leaders to act.

Premier Dave Hancock, who was the minister responsible for announcing the closure of Michener, has the power to announce he will halt the movement of all Michener residents immediately. He owes it to families to halt the movement of residents and commit to keeping the facility open.

Current Human Services Minister Manmeet Bhullar, campaign chair for Mr. Prentice’s leadership campaign, has an opportunity to show a basic sense of compassion for these residents and family members. However, neither himself nor Mr. Prentice have made any firm commitment to keeping Michener open for these fragile and vulnerable Albertans.

Diane Esslinger’s brother Larry has been a resident of the Michener Centre for over five decades. She has experienced first-hand the intimidation and pressure from the government to move her brother out. A fierce advocate, she understands the chaos caused by the closure of Michener and the sense of chaos it has caused.

Anyone who has met Diane, or her brother Larry, would know right away the horrendous mistake of moving these residents from their longtime homes.

No more should families have to put up this horrendous treatment. I call on Mr. Hancock and Mr. Bhullar to halt the movement of residents completely and commit to keeping the centre open today. A failure to act is no longer an option.

Kerry Towle

Wildrose Human Services Critic

MLA Innisfail-Sylvan Lake

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Lyn Radford, 2019 Canada Winter Games board chair, was named 2020 Sport Event Volunteer of the Year at the Prestige Awards. (File photo by Advocate staff)
WATCH: Lyn Radford wins award for volunteer efforts

The board chair of the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer… Continue reading

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Red Deer dips below 300 active COVID-19 cases

The number of active COVID-19 cases in Red Deer continued to drop… Continue reading

A candlelight vigil will be held in Red Deer on Thursday to honour the 350-plus people killed in the Easter bombing attack in Sri Lanka. Contributed photo
Candlelight vigil planned for deaths linked to Olymel COVID-19 outbreak

A candlelight vigil is being planned for those who died due to… Continue reading

Red Deer Rebels forward Jaxsen Wiebe battles Calgary Hitmen forward Cael Zimmerman for a loose puck when the two teams squared off in February last season. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Calgary Hitmen shutout Red Deer Rebels

Rebels name centre Jayden Grubbe team captain ahead of Friday’s game

Bryson, six, and Mara, eight, play with puppies from Dogs With Wings Saturday. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
WATCH: Dogs With Wings introduces Red Deer program

A program that trains puppies to be certified service, autism, facility and… Continue reading

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, January 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Funeral for Walter Gretzky to be held Saturday in home town of Brantford, Ont.

The funeral for hockey legend Wayne Gretzky’s father Walter will take place… Continue reading

A sign for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service building is shown in Ottawa on May 14, 2013. A newly released audit report shows that difficulties with the judicial warrant process at Canada's spy agency — an issue that made headlines last summer — stretch back at least nine years. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Spy warrant shortcomings stretch back almost a decade, newly released audit shows

OTTAWA — A newly released audit report shows that difficulties with the… Continue reading

In this file photo, a lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018. (By THE CANADIAN PRESS)
No winning ticket for Friday night’s Lotto Max jackpot

TORONTO — No winning ticket was sold for the estimated $29 million… Continue reading

A trial countdown sign marks the days at George Floyd Square, March 4, 2021, in Minneapolis. Ten months after police officers brushed off George Floyd's moans for help on the street outside a south Minneapolis grocery, the square remains a makeshift memorial for Floyd who died at the hand of police making an arrest. The trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin will begin with jury selection on March 8. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Officer’s trial could reopen intersection where Floyd died

MINNEAPOLIS — During a group’s recent meeting at the now-vacant Speedway gas… Continue reading

FILE - In this Aug. 30, 2020 file photo Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell calls for an end to violence in the city during a news conference a day after a demonstrator was shot and killed in downtown Portland. Amid protests following the police killing of George Floyd last year Portland dissolved a special police unit designed to focus on gun violence. Critics say the squad unfairly targeted Black people, but gun violence and homicides have since spiked in Oregon's largest city, and some say disbanding the 35-officer unit was a mistake. (Sean Meagher/The Oregonian via AP, File)
As violence surges, some question Portland axing police unit

PORTLAND, Ore. — Elmer Yarborough got a terrifying call from his sister:… Continue reading

Harley Hay
Harley Hay: Just don’t call it cod liver oil

Many people swear that a daily dose of various vitamins is an… Continue reading

Email editor@auburn-reporter.com
Letter: Preserving green spaces in Red Deer

The Advocate published an article Feb. 11 about Sunnybrook residents concerned about… Continue reading

Former Toronto Argonauts lineman Chris Schultz remembered as a gentle giant

Former Toronto Argonauts lineman Chris Schultz remembered as a gentle giant

Most Read