Posted on Jun 18, 2020
UCP MOVES TO PRIVATIZE CARE FOR MEDICALLY FRAGILE AND DISABLED CHILDREN AND ADULTS
EDMONTON - Alberta’s NDP Opposition is calling on the UCP to immediately stop moves to privatize service delivery for medically fragile, complex and disabled children and adults, who are also considered higher risk due to the pandemic.
Earlier this month staff, medical professionals, families and guardians received 90-day notice from the Ministry of Community and Social Services that Persons with Developmental Disabilities and Family Support for Children with Disabilities programs were being targeted for transition to other contracted service providers and service delivery models.
Jennifer and Owen Chikonyora are parents to 44-year-old Erin who has been a resident of Residential Support Services since 1984.
“It is not an easy decision for parents to place a child in a residential home – especially a child who is dependent, not verbal and in a wheelchair,” Jennifer said. “The quality of care Erin has received over the years through RSS has been consistently exceptional. The letter we received out of the blue last week gave no reasons for the potential change and no opportunities for consultation with parents and guardians, who are the voices of our children.”
Jennifer said this was not the first time a government tried to divest itself of direct responsibility for residential services. In the mid-80s, through letters and a meeting with the minister of the day, parents and guardians were able to persuade the government to continue to run the program directly.
“By listening to those most closely involved the government made a wise decision not to privatize, we hope the UCP will listen as well,” Jennifer said.
The programs include Rosecrest and Hardisty in Edmonton which house and support medically fragile children with complex needs full time and provide respite for families. Also included are Graduated Supports in Calgary and RSS in Edmonton which support disabled adults with complex medical needs.
The low staff turnover at these programs and the intimate knowledge of the people they support is part of what makes these programs so valuable and essential.
Retired nurse Sandy Walsh-Schuurman worked at Rosecrest for nearly 40 years and said privatization would shift the responsibility of care to the less educated, less experienced, and less invested.
“The children that live there became my children, their families became my family,” Walsh-Schuurman said. “I fear the plan to privatize care will further marginalize an already vulnerable population. We all wake up with an expectation our basic needs will be met in a safe and equitable way. Why would we take this away from the most at risk in our community - those unable to speak for themselves.”
“Withdrawing and changing supports will not only pose huge medical risks to this group but it will add financial pressures to acute care facilities like the Stollery Children's Hospital where several children are already housed and cared for because intake at Rosecrest has stopped,” said Marie Renaud, NDP Community and Social Services Critic. “Jason Kenney needs to stop this now and put the lives of these children and adults ahead of his ideologically-driven budget cuts.”