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Albertans offer input on safety guidelines for people with developmental disabilities

Albertans supporting people with developmental disabilities
WATCH ABOVE: Albertans are being encouraged to share their thoughts on how to ensure the safety of people with developmental disabilities. Sarah Kraus reports.

EDMONTON – Albertans are being encouraged to share their thoughts on how to ensure the safety of people with developmental disabilities.

In September, the province extended the compliance date for developmental disability regulations to Mar. 31, to include more public consultation.

The consultation in Edmonton was held at the University of Alberta’s Lister Centre on Monday.

50 people already in attendance at public consultations on safety for people with developmental disabilities. #yeg pic.twitter.com/1HceFGfqXd

— Sarah Kraus Global (@SarahNKraus) February 29, 2016

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Tammy Poirier was one of those in attendance on Monday. Poirier suffered brain damage after falling down the stairs when she was four. She said she was upset when the province proposed changing the guidelines for people with developmental disabilities a few years ago.

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“They affected me quite bad because where I used to live, they had to put the regulators on the tubs and the hot water tanks and I hated it,” she said, explaining how she was forced to take cold showers. “The thought of now having to put sprinklers in our houses, it’s like you’re going to be back to institutionalized, you’re not living in your home, you’re going to be back in the hospital or in a nursing home.”

The province said it is seeking to find a balance between keeping people safe, respecting their rights and supporting inclusive community living.

Previously proposed standards have been subject to criticism because those with disabilities felt they weren’t involved in drafting them.

The cost of implementing safety features was also placed on landlords, restricting where people were able to live.

“It’s up to a landlord to make those changes and in many cases those are really intrusive, expensive changes and the likelihood of them doing that just to rent to someone with a disability is not great,” St. Albert MLA Marie Renaud said, while talking about problems with the current regulations. “If you don’t consult the people that you’re making decisions for, the chances of you getting it right are slim.”

The safety standards team hopes to get feedback on what people with developmental disabilities are worried about and the things that help them feel safe.

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Albertans with developmental disabilities, their families or guardians and others involved in supporting their safety, are encouraged to take part.

“If we get enough people out, get enough surveys done and get enough comments, we’re hoping this will help change it (current regulations),” Poirier said.

Similar consultations have already taken place in Westlock and Grande Prairie and more public forums are set to take place across the province over the next few weeks, including a forum planned for Wednesday, Mar. 2 at Calgary’s Best Western Plus Port O’Call Hotel between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. and again from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Anyone unable to attend a forum in person can also fill out an online questionnaire here.