Opposition grows to UCP government plan to privatize group homes
EDMONTON – Two local councils and an Edmonton church leader have added their voices to the growing chorus concerned about the Alberta government’s plan to privatize the care of people with disabilities.
The Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) has learned that the City of Leduc and the Town of Morinville have written to the government about their fears over proposed changes to care for Albertan children and adults living in group homes in Edmonton and Calgary. The union represents about 300 workers who care for group-home residents in Edmonton and Calgary.
Bob Young, Mayor of the City of Leduc, wrote to Premier Jason Kenney and Community and Social Services Minister Rajan Sawhney about changes to the Rosecrest group home for children in Edmonton and cutbacks to dental services for resident of the Michener Centre in Red Deer.
“These children and adults are among the most vulnerable in our society, they and their families deserve our support and the peace of mind that the services and care they depend upon will not be considered for ‘service delivery’ reductions,” says the letter. “They are fragile individuals and anything affecting their environment, changes to their routines or in their caregivers can be catastrophic as they do not have the capacity to adapt.”
Morinville Mayor Barry Turner wrote to the premier: “Consistency of care should take top priority, as changes to residents' routine and level of care can be extremely harmful, as many do not have the capacity to adapt. We are concerned about the impact a shift of care providers or alternative service options many have on residents. We also recognize that these homes are chosen by the guardians of those in care, and they have been selected as the best place for their loved ones.”
The Rev. Nick Trussell, priest at St. Luke’s Anglican Church in Edmonton, emailed Minister Sawhney about a family with a daughter in one of the homes.
“One of the families I care for and pray with weekly are greatly concerned about the actions of our government as it relates to the care of their daughter, who has lived for decades in a government run home for adults with disabilities,” writes the Rev. Trussell. “The care she has received has been exemplary, compassionate and has greatly contributed to her excellent quality of life.”
He calls on the minister to listen to the families speaking for their loved ones.
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 Rosecrest, Hardisty, Woodvale and others in Edmonton.
AUPE vice-president Kevin Barry says: “No one involved with the care of these fragile Albertans likes what the government is proposing. Family members and workers who care for and love the residents have spoken out against it. Educators have spoken out against it. Council members from nearby communities are opposed.”
“What will it take for Minister Sawhney and the UCP government to admit they are wrong and to do what’s best for these vulnerable people?”
Barry adds: “Albertans have had enough of this government’s attacks on the vulnerable, with changes and threats to people on Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH) and with these proposals for group homes.
“Please end the uncertainty and suffering these families are enduring and drop this bad idea now. Instead of cutting and privatizing, the government should increase funding for publicly delivered care, which has proven itself to provide the best and safest care during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Kevin Barry is available for interviews.
For more information, contact Terry Inigo-Jones, communications officer, 403-831-4394.