Alberta opposition parties want Michener Centre to stay open

EDMONTON – It’s rare in politics for all opposition parties to agree on an issue, but Alberta’s three opposition parties are united in a request to keep Red Deer’s Michener Centre open.

The NDP, Liberals, and Wildrose are calling on the province to immediately stop the transfer of patients out of the facility — an institution for people with developmental disabilities.

The parties are making the request following the death of five people who passed away after being transferred out of the facility.

“They didn’t need to be moved…the move itself was cruel and it was cruel to the families. And, so, some of these residents died away from their families in communities that they didn’t know,” said Wildrose MLA Kerry Towle.

The parties aren’t saying the transfers directly resulted in the deaths of the individuals, but they say the dangers surrounding their move should have been obvious.

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“If it’s determined that someone is in fragile, poor health in the first place, then the last thing you want to do is transfer that individual sometimes all the way to Yellowknife,” said NDP MLA David Eggen. “Transferring to a facility that might not have the same level of care.”

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The province has announced it will close the Michener Centre by the end of the year.

The government issued the following response on Thursday:

“We have every confidence in the care providers and medical professionals who ensure individuals receive equal or better care than what they had while at Michener. We do regular follow-ups and check-ins with every individual who has moved into the community to ensure their needs are being met and that any concerns are addressed immediately,” Naresh Bhardwaj, Associate Minister for Persons with Disabilities, said in a statement.

“In every case, the families of each resident that is moved from Michener into another care setting, meets with their loved one’s care professionals to develop, and approve of, a transition plan supporting his or her unique medical and care needs.

“If anyone has any evidence to suggest the needs of an individual are not being met, or that a death was caused by a transition to another care setting, we ask that they speak with the appropriate authorities.”  

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A total of 41 residents have already been transferred out of the facility.

The NDP says that as far as it understands, all of the residents from the north section of the Michener Centre are scheduled to be transferred by Sept. 12.

With files from Fletcher Kent, Global News

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