Action Needed Now: Alberta Government failing children and adults with developmental disabilities and their families
Media release – March 31, 2020
Edmonton, AB — The Government of Alberta’s recent communication to families who have family members with developmental disabilities, coupled with the announcement that educational assistants who support students with disabilities are being laid off, is leaving families wondering why they do not count as Albertans. Adding to the challenges of social distancing, the government is furthering families’ feelings of being isolated and alone; somehow not worthy of the commitments this government has shown with respect to other vulnerable and at-risk Albertans.
Prior to COVID-19, the department of Community and Social Services (CSS) was reducing and limiting supports to families and individuals with developmental disabilities at a level never before experienced in this province. The waiting list for services and supports had become the largest in Alberta’s history. Families in increasing numbers were being forced into an arduous appeal process when government eliminated, refused or reduced their supports. Now those appeals are having to be conducted over the phone – a far from family-friendly process.
In contrast, in this time of crisis the Government of Ontario has announced an additional $40 million dollars to support individuals with developmental disabilities and their families. As a result, thousands more Ontario families will now be eligible for supports and services at a time when isolation, however necessary, adds to the challenges families who have family members with disabilities ordinarily face. Instead of ensuring educational assistants continue to be available to support children with disabilities and their teachers, the government views them as disposable workers and children with disabilities as not needing to have continued supports for learning delivered by alternate means.
This is not a time when our government should be contributing to Albertans feeling forgotten because they have a family member with a developmental disability. This is a time for positive and constructive action equivalent to the government’s action on every other front.
Among other actions we have been seeking, the existing waiting lists for supports for children and adults with developmental disabilities should be dramatically reduced by an infusion of funds. Families currently appealing reductions or terminations in funding should have their funding restored and appeals left for another day and time. Families should be able to utilize their existing funding creatively and flexibly, without worrying about having to report to their government workers every time they make a change. How is this monitoring of family lives warranted in time and expense during a crisis?
Families and individuals with developmental disabilities need truly substantive and supportive government action now.
For further inquiries, or to arrange an interview, please contact:
Jeff Samsonow, Communications Coordinator, Inclusion Alberta
780.451.3055 ext. 422
About Inclusion Alberta: Inclusion Alberta is a family-based, non-profit federation that advocates on behalf of children and adults with developmental disabilities and their families. Together, we share a dream of meaningful family life and community inclusion for individuals with developmental disabilities. As an advocacy organization we support families and individuals in their desire to be fully included in community life.