Inclusion Alberta’s Position on PDD Safety Standards Regulation
Inclusion Alberta’s Position on Persons with Developmental Disabilities (PDD) Safety Standards Regulation
In previous publications Inclusion Alberta has expressed its opposition to the PDD Safety Standards. The following excerpt is from our most recent document on issues to be addressed by Alberta’s MLAs.
“The current unwarranted imposition of excessive regulatory control and invasive intrusion into the sanctity of the homes and housing of individuals with developmental disabilities, in the name of safety, needs to end and end now. The Persons with Developmental Disabilities Safety Regulations have created an environment in which the homes of individuals with developmental disabilities are being turned into increasingly bureaucratic and regimented facilities. Staff and agencies supporting individuals to live in community are being forced to expend resources and staff time on burdensome administrative details when they should be engaged in supporting individuals to have a real home and a meaningful life in community,
Suggesting, as government has, that any debate on the merits of the Safety Standards is akin to wanting to put people at risk, is insulting to families and individuals with developmental disabilities. The current safety standards are oppressive and risk the safety of individuals with developmental disabilities as they reflect an institutional mentality. Appropriate safety mechanisms are best established with families, individuals with developmental disabilities and those who support them. Individuals with developmental disabilities need the safety and security that comes from having a real home.”
What follows elaborates on our opposition and continuing desire to see the Regulation appealed and real and serious steps taken to ensure the safety of individuals with developmental disabilities by ensuring their homes are treated with the respect and dignity to which they are entitled.
The points below relate to individuals’ with developmental disabilities who are impacted by the Regulation and who own or lease the places in which they reside, may live with their families, in a support home or with a supportive roommate, regardless of their degree of disability or supports required. To the best of our knowledge these points are factually accurate and where any questions or differences exist we look forward to clarification from the courts.
Recently the provincial government announced that it will hold a consultation on the Regulation and that it will not require further compliance with Regulation until March 31, 2016. While Inclusion Alberta appreciates the opportunity for consultation and the compliance extension we remain opposed to the Regulation and any such regulation which, in the name of safety, requires the sacrifice of the essence and integrity of an individual’s home. Safety can only be achieved by ensuring and safeguarding home for individuals with developmental disabilities.
Points to Consider:
- Ensuring the safety and security of individuals with developmental disabilities requires an inclusive life of which a true and meaningful home remains a cornerstone. (Our position on the essential necessity of home in its truest sense has been described over the decades in our newsletters, and at many Family Conferences, workshops and presentations.)
- A meaningful and inclusive life provides the essential context for ensuring safety.
- Anyone, within their proper purview, who required the Regulation to ensure the safety of individuals with developmental disabilities is remiss in not having done so in the first instance.
- Anyone who relies on the Regulation or believes reliance on the Regulation will ensure safety is actually placing individuals with developmental disabilities at risk, however well intentioned.
- Inclusion Alberta opposed the Regulation since its inception and remains opposed, as it increases the risks to the safety and security of individuals with disabilities by negating the very essence of home.
- On a less substantive note the Regulation does not address the actual causal factors (staff neglect or errors) that led to the Regulation’s supposed need.
- Although the Regulation defines the homes that people with developmental disabilities own or lease as residences, there is no legislative authority under which the Regulation can define these “residences” as PDD residences or as facilities managed by agencies or as public facilities subject to inspections common to public facilities.
- Nor is there any moral or direct legal authority by which PDD can require service providers to coerce individuals with developmental disabilities to allow inspectors into their private owned or rented homes at threat of losing their support from the very same providers. This process, intended or otherwise, attempts to circumvent the rights of individuals with developmental disabilities, which exist under other legislation.
- Inspection reports of the private residences of individuals with developmental disabilities that reference their homes as a PDD or agency facility are incorrect. Private residences are not PDD or agency facilities and do not become facilities on the basis of this Regulation. As such, the recommendations flowing from any such inspection, such as requiring zoning approval to become a facility, are incorrect.
- Individuals with developmental disabilities do not lose their legal or human rights with respect to their private residences on the basis of needing government funded supports nor can any Regulation supersede their human rights.
- As the homes owned or leased by individuals with developmental disabilities are private residences, inspectors cannot enter these homes without probable cause. Probable cause does not exist simply on the basis of an individual having a developmental disability and receiving government funded support.
- Individuals with developmental disabilities have the right in their private residences to deny inspectors access to their homes and this right should have and must be secured and supported. If an inspector has knowledge or cause, as would be applicable to any other private home, they can seek a court order to enter the premises having demonstrated to the courts’ satisfaction that probable cause exists. This allows for a court order to be challenged and which it should be where appropriate.
- The presence of overnight staff does not change an individual’s residence, whether owned, leased, family home or supportive roommate, etc., into a facility subject to inspection nor is there any legislative authority for such a determination.
- Government and those service providers, families and individuals with developmental disabilities who have not respected the sanctity of home have contributed to the misperception of inspectors and licensing authorities that the places in which people live are facilities managed by agencies.
- Typically service providers have service agreements that provide for supports in the homes of individuals with developmental disabilities but these do not state the individuals living there agree to have their residence managed by the agency. Nowhere are the residences described as facilities in these agreements.
- In addition PDD does not have contracts with service providers in which they require agencies to manage the private homes of individuals nor is anyone’s private home described as facility.
- Given the above, individuals with developmental disabilities living in their own homes, are not subject to zoning by-laws, do not have to apply to have their home approved as a facility (and thus are not subject to the public having a say in where they choose to live) and therefore are not required to seek a change of use to become a care facility subject to the building code provisions for ‘care facilities’. People with developmental disabilities renting or owning their own place to live constitute a household and as such are subject only to the same zoning and regulations that apply to any other ordinary household.
- Further the building code that applies to “care occupancies” is only applicable to facilities that are managed by an agency for the purposes of delivering care – they do not apply to private homes, whether or not someone with developmental disabilities lives there and/or their degree of support. We look forward to a court challenge, if in the opinion of any authority, that by virtue of individuals with developmental disabilities living in their home, their home must be zoned and/or classified as a care facility subject to related building code requirements.
- It is not a question of whether the building code provisions being required by some inspectors are too expensive or incoherent. The essential point is that the building code requirements for care facilities do not apply to the private residences of individuals with developmental disabilities.
- Inclusion Alberta is prepared to legally assist individuals with developmental disabilities, their families and/or those providing support who refuse to agree to inspections or to comply with recommendations that diminish or threaten their home as a home. A number of individuals, families and service providers have now advised Inclusion Alberta that they will not comply with inspections or recommendations that are invasive and characterize their home as facility and if needed, legal representation will be offered and action taken as necessary.
- This includes challenging in court any by-laws, should they exist, that prohibit or restrict individuals with developmental disabilities from owning or leasing housing as would be true for any other Albertans do not have developmental disabilities.
- Inclusion Alberta is also prepared to assist any individual, family or service provider who currently is living in a facility, are subject to licensing, zoning and/or inspections, to move to a home of their own.
- Inclusion Alberta calls for the immediate repeal of the Regulation and a consultative process that focuses on how to honour, respect and support the true essence of home for every individual with developmental disabilities. This could include, for example, government assistance for home ownership instead of the current government insistence on converting the homes of individuals with development disabilities into facilities.
It is time to move forward, protect the sanctity of home and ensure safety though a meaningful and inclusive life.
*It should be noted that the above points do not apply to licensed group homes or those subject to licensing under the Supportive Living Accommodation Act, and residential facilities operated and managed by service providers or government.
Inclusion Alberta – firstname.lastname@example.org
Tel. 780-451-3055 Toll free 1-800-252-7566