January 29, 2021
Residents & families can rest easy that homes for Albertans with disabilities will not be privatized
After many months of waiting, Rajan Sawhney, Minister of Community and Social Services, announced today that the Alberta government will maintain the current service model for residential and personal care facilities for people with disabilities in Edmonton and Calgary. Albertans who have called these Direct Operations sites their homes for years or decades will be able to remain there under public operation.
“It is significant that the government was able to recognize the role that government plays in providing care for the most vulnerable, and once again reverse their intentions to privatize this important health care service,” says Sandra Azocar, Executive Director of Friends of Medicare. “We’re still dealing with a pandemic. This was the last thing residents needed right now, and our health care system certainly doesn’t need that additional burden.”
The ministry indicated that the decision was made as a result of the government review which found overwhelming opposition expressed by individual Albertans, families, service providers and the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, who represent care staff and other workers in the facilities.
In October, Friends of Medicare stood alongside health care advocates, unions, staff and family members, at a rally in support of the Albertans with disabilities who are supported and cared for under publicly-run Direct Operations at homes and respite centres in Edmonton and Calgary.
“Many of these families and residents have been here before, they know that privatization would jeopardize care,” says Azocar. “These are some of the most vulnerable people in our communities, who are medically fragile, and there were urgent fears from their caretakers and loved ones that the privatization of care would have had a disastrous impact on the residents. It is truly momentous that Albertans were able to make their voices heard and stand up against privatization.”
On June 10th, 2020 Approximately 200 guardians of disabled Albertans were given notice that the UCP government was “exploring alternative service delivery”—code for privatization—of Edmonton’s Rosecrest home for children, the Hardisty and Balwin respite centers, Edmonton group homes, and Calgary’s Scenic Bow home.
Scenic Bow in Calgary is home to Albertans who are as medically fragile and aging as those residing in Michener, and children in the Rosecrest home in Edmonton who would likely be in hospital beds in the Stollery Children’s Hospital if they weren’t being cared for there.
The adult group homes and respite centres in Edmonton also serve an important function as part of a continuum of support and care for Albertans with disabilities throughout the province.
In 2013, Premier Alison Redford announced the closure of Red Deer’s Michener Centre, without the consent of the guardians of the centre’s residents. Later that year, new PC leader and Premier Jim Prentice reversed the closure, but not before 5 of the 41 residents who had been moved had tragically died.