Letter to Premier Alison Redford, QC
May 1, 2013
Premier Alison Redford, QC
Legislature Office – 307 Legislature Building
10800 97 Avenue
Edmonton, AB T5K 2B6
Dear Premier Redford
I am writing to you on behalf of the many thousands of families and their family members with developmental disabilities represented by the Alberta Association for Community Living (AACL). AACL was founded almost 60 years ago by parents from across Alberta who simply wanted: their children with developmental disabilities to be able to grow up at home; to stay together as a family; children to have an education; and to go on to live in community and participate in community life. At the time the only option, other than sending your child to an institution, was to raise your child on your own without supports – and they did this by the thousands, resisting institutionalization and believing that their children could learn and succeed.
Thanks to their pioneering spirit they created the first schools and services for individuals with developmental disabilities and today from those small beginnings in communities across Alberta tens of thousands of children and adults with disabilities are being supported to live a promising life in community. Today however, many of these families are living in fear and apprehension as the supports their sons and daughters rely upon are being threatened.
We wholeheartedly support your government’s decision to close Michener Centre and return those living there to a life in community. And we fully support and are encouraged by the Ministry of Human Services’ decision to improve the direction of the Persons with Developmental Disabilities (PDD) program to achieve better life outcomes for individuals with developmental disabilities. We know, from our own internationally recognized innovative practices, which your government has supported, that many more individuals with developmental disabilities can be employed and more fully included in community life.
Nevertheless, the budgetary reductions being imposed on the PDD program are excessive and threaten the very hoped for and needed changes. The cuts to funding over the course of this coming year are substantially greater than anything PDD has experienced in its history and constitute a larger reduction in funding than any other program. In effect, and principally as a consequence of allocating a needed $45 million dollar wage increase to an underpaid workforce within the existing budget, individuals with developmental disabilities will see their supports and services reduced by approximately $60 million dollars. And this will be done in an unimaginably short time frame allowing insufficient opportunity to assess the impact of the cuts already vulnerable Albertans will be put at greater risk.
Time and planning, in addition to adequate funding, are required to enable the needed transformation of the PDD system while not putting individuals at risk or the realization of needed change. We are acutely aware of Alberta’s financial challenges but do note your own, and that of Ministers Hancock and Oberle, commitment to ensuring the well-being of individuals with developmental disabilities and their families. We do not doubt this commitment and just as your government has seen fit to allocate additional funding to doctors, to freeze tuition fees and support the pharmaceutical program, there is an unquestionable and urgent need for the same to be done through the PDD program for individuals with developmental disabilities.
We remain committed to working in partnership with your government to achieve the needed transformative change and ask in this shared commitment that you lift the veil of fear from the hearts of families and individuals with developmental disabilities by addressing the incomprehensible reduction of funding being required by the PDD program.
Thank you for your time and interest.
cc: The Honourable Dave Hancock, Minister of Human Services
The Honourable Frank Oberle, Associate Minister of Services for Persons with Disabilities