EDMONTON – A not-for-profit group that works with people with developmental disabilities says the provincial government is mishandling the closure of Red Deer’s Michener Centre.
The province is working to move 125 residents from the centre into community-based living arrangements. But the Lo-Se-Ca Foundation says there are holes in the transition plan.
“The problem is, this transition is just a failure,” said Lo-Se-Ca Director Marie Renaud. “We are not addressing what these folks need.”
The province announced last March it would be closing Michener Centre. $10 million was earmarked to transition residents into care facilities.
The Lo-Se-Ca Foundation is currently working to move three residents to a new home in St. Albert, but says getting answers on how the transition will work is very difficult. Renaud also wonders exactly how the money is being spent.
“These men have lived their lives at Michener. They were put in that institution as children and they’ve been there ever since. So they get $1,000 and likely their bedroom furniture to move out and to start again,” Renaud explained.
According to the province, some of the money is going to severance costs at the Michener. But Alberta’s Associate Minister of Services for Persons with Disabilities says the money is also going toward new facilities and training.
Naresh Bhardwaj adds this will ensure communities are well-equipped to provide services for the residents as they move out.
“As they grow older their needs are going to change and we know that, and are we going to be able to provide the needs with the new capacity we are building?”
So far, 14 people have moved out of Michener Centre; another 18 are expected to make the move over the next month or so.
Bhardwaj says the government’s goal is to make sure each person receives equal or better care than they’re already receiving.
“We are absolutely committed that no one will move until an appropriate home has been found for them,” Bhardwaj told Global News Thursday.
It’s a goal the Lo-Se-Ca Foundation is onboard with, but says is difficult to reach without clear guidelines on the process.
“The way that this is being managed is just another example of building Alberta in an incorrect manner,” Renaud added.
The Alberta Union of Provincial Employees is pushing to keep the centre open, for those who wish to stay. The matter will go before a Court of Queen’s Bench judge in late November.
With files from Tom Vernon, Global News.
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