Frightened families say: ‘Our voices have not been heard’
Guardians and family members of Albertans with disabilities facing the loss of their homes are demanding real consultation with the government before it makes a decision.
“We are living in fear now because we have been asking the government for information, but have been hearing very little,” says guardian Bob Muir, whose son is a resident of the Glenwood group home in Edmonton. “We feel like our voices have not been heard and that our concern for our loved ones is not being taken seriously.”
The Alberta government is looking for alternative ways to deliver the services to more than 200 people with disabilities, adults and children, in Calgary and Edmonton.
Those alternatives could result in their care being handed over to corporations seeking to profit from their care and might result in them being moved from homes where they have lived for years or decades. The review would impact a number of homes, including Scenic Bow in Calgary, as well as Glenwood, Rosecrest, Hardisty, Woodvale and others in Edmonton.
“The only consultation has been a survey of a mere 17 questions, which created fear but provided us little opportunity to give our full views about the care of our loved ones,” says guardian Jennifer Chikonyora, whose daughter is also in the Glenwood home. “You should not base the future of more than 200 of our most vulnerable people on 17 questions in an online survey. Have a heart and talk to us.”
Guardian Pamela Bloomer, whose sister lives at Scenic Bow in Calgary, says: “We have not even been told the results of that survey. We demand that the government release the survey responses because we know it will show that families are united in their opposition. There is no need for secrecy unless the government is hiding the truth.”
Guardian Brenda Waluk, whose grand-daughter lives at the Rosecrest facility in Edmonton, says: “We have been very clear that the current delivery of care is working very well and that we do not want it changed, but most of our attempts to talk to Community and Social Services Minister Rajan Sawhney or the government have been rebuffed. That is unacceptable.”
Kevin Barry, vice-president of AUPE which represents employees at the group homes and has been working with family members, says: “We have just finished consultations with the government that are required as part of our collective bargaining agreement. We were given no evidence that changing the model of care would maintain the quality of care currently being provided.
“The families deserve better. The government should stop this dangerous plan immediately. Until it does, AUPE members support the families in their calls to be heard and for transparency,” he says.
“With the deadly pandemic sweeping through care facilities, there is absolutely no reason to force this through now. No one is going to be hurt by real consultation – and it could just save lives.”
Guardians Bob Muir, Jennifer Chikonyora, Pamela Bloomer and Brenda Waluk available for comment. AUPE VP Kevin Barry is also available for comment.
For more information, contact Terry Inigo-Jones, communications officer, 403-831-4394.