Local organizations are gearing up for a rally Thursday to protest government funding cuts for persons with developmental disabilities (PDD.)
In late 2009 the government asked service organizations in Alberta’s PDD sector to trim $11 million, or two per cent, from their current year budgets. Rather than submit action plans for dealing with the clawback, organizations in the Edmonton area banded together and decided they wouldn’t part with their $2.8-million share because they have signed contracts with government.
The organizations now hope that a rally scheduled for Thursday evening in Edmonton can ratchet up the pressure on the government.
“My hope is that there will be a moratorium on these cuts,” said Paul Fujishige, executive director of Transitions in St. Albert.
“As a sector, as a group of organizations we’ve said we have to take a stand.”
The rally will include speakers who represent people with disabilities and their families as well as community organizations that operate in the PDD area. The aim is to inform people about cuts in the sector and encourage more to join the Albertans Who Care campaign that’s calling on the province to invest in human services rather than cutting funding.
The rally is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the McDougall United Church at 10025 – 101 St. The event’s title is The Big Bottle Drive Rally, a reference to Premier Ed Stelmach’s reversal of a budgeted increase to liquor taxes that would have put $180 million into government coffers.
The liquor tax increase was part of last spring’s budget but Stelmach cancelled the hike in July.
Transitions and the Loseca Foundation in St. Albert are both putting out the word to their client families in the hope that local people attend the rally.
Marie Renaud of Loseca said that everyone in the sector has the same goal.
We want to provide excellent services to people with disabilities and we want to have some security and peace of mind that we can plan our supports based on [the governments]commitment to us, she said.
However, Renaud is afraid the upcoming spring budget will bring deeper cuts to make up for the shortfall created by the refusal of local organizations to give money back.
“I certainly hope it doesn’t happen but that will be my guess,” she said. “I don’t think the financial problem has resolved itself. It’s still there.”