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Alberta government launching review of Persons with Developmental Disabilities program

A file photo of Alberta's Community and Social Services Minister Irfan Sabir taken in 2016.
A file photo of Alberta's Community and Social Services Minister Irfan Sabir taken in 2016. Global News

A massive government program aimed at supporting adults with developmental disabilities in Alberta will undergo an extensive review, the community and social services ministry announced on Friday.

Alberta’s Persons with Developmental Disabilities (PDD) program is mandated to help vulnerable Albertans be part of community life and to be as independent as possible.

“This review will be an opportunity to explore ways to ensure this program remains relevant to the needs of Albertans today and into the future,” Community and Social Services Minister Irfan Sabir said in a news release.

The government said it is already consulting with members of the community.

The comprehensive review comes a little more than a year after the government released the findings of a report looking into how the government can help Albertans with disabilities lead safer lives, and ensure they are treated the same as other Albertans. The report’s authors spoke to more than 2,000 Albertans and came up with 11 recommendations, calling on lawmakers to adopt a more “holistic” view of safety for people with disabilities.

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READ MORE: Alberta should use ‘holistic’ approach to safety standards for people with disabilities: report

Watch below: On Feb. 29, 2016, Sarah Kraus filed this report about Albertans being encouraged to share their thoughts on how to ensure the safety of people with developmental disabilities.

Albertans supporting people with developmental disabilities
Albertans supporting people with developmental disabilities

As a parent of an adult with a disability, Lesley Taber welcomed the government’s announcement on Friday.

“This review is so important, and is such good news,” Taber said in a news release. “I feel like our family’s concerns have been listened to.”

Andrea Hesse, CEO of the Alberta Council of Disability Services (ACDS), said she was glad to hear it appears the review will listen to the voices of individuals and families who benefit from the PDD program.

“ACDS and our member service provider organizations are encouraged by the commitment to engage individuals, families and stakeholder organizations in shaping and informing the review,” Hesse said in a news release. “These voices are critical in ensuring the review results in changes that create a responsive system that supports meaningful inclusion in the community for individuals.”

READ MORE: Teen’s death should prompt ‘meaningful change’ in services for disabled Albertans: report

According to the government, in September 2016, over 11,000 people benefited from the PDD program’s services. Nearly half of those people were between the ages of 18 and 34.

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Since being elected, the NDP government has made a $55-million investment to “provide supports for an additional 800 PDD clients.”

Terms of the review and when it is to be completed were not released.

In its last budget, the Alberta NDP earmarked $1.1 billion for programs that support persons with disabilities, including people with developmental disabilities, family support for children with disabilities and fetal alcohol spectrum disorder initiatives.

-With files from The Canadian Press