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Province tries to sell PDD cuts, but opposition continues

CALGARY- The minister responsible for persons with developmental disabilities is working hard to sell the province’s new plan, which will see a major shift in how support programs are funded.

Frank Oberle visited the South Legion on Monday morning, and was met with a packed room of concerned citizens. The government recently announced it’s cutting $42 million of funding for community access programs, which will translate into less one-on-one care.

“By her losing her day programs and by taking seven hours out of her program a day, that would leave her only three hours with a caregiver,” complains Vivian MacCallum, whose daughter has severe disabilities. “There’s no way they could actually take care of her.”

However, Oberle says the budget cuts could be much less.

“If we need funding we’ll get funding. We have employment supports funding outside of my disability services envelope, we have additional flexibility in the $4.2 billion dollar human services budget, and both Minister [of Human Services] Hancock and I have said if we have to go back to treasury board we will,” he explains.

He adds it’s been hard selling the new system, to people around the province.

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“We just simply need to do a better job of communicating what it is we think we need to achieve, bouncing that off of people, understanding where they see drawbacks.”

Advocates for people with disabilities held demonstrations at the legislature, and outside of Premier Redford’s office on Friday.

The province plans to start implementing the changes on July 1.