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Make some noise, service provider urges

A local agency is encouraging families to start making noise about cuts to funding for persons with developmental disabilities (PDD).

A local agency is encouraging families to start making noise about cuts to funding for persons with developmental disabilities (PDD).

The LoSeCa Foundation, which offers PDD programs, held a meeting Wednesday for parents and guardians of people affected by funding cuts to PDD. They encouraged families to write letters to provincial politicians explaining how funding cuts will affect their lives.

“They’re used to hearing from people like us, from service providers; they need to hear from you all,” said executive director Marie Renaud.

“We need to unite to get this going simply because without a united front, nothing is going to change,” agreed board member Pat Magee.

Last month PDD service providers were asked to trim two per cent of their budgets for the current year. This amounted to $93,000 for LoSeCa, Renaud said.

Edmonton-area providers agreed as a group to refuse to comply with the request because they have service contracts in place. Renaud thinks this is just a temporary reprieve that will translate into deeper cuts in next Tuesday’s budget.

Magee feels that, if families make enough noise, they can get the government to change its course, as recently happened over planned bed closures at Alberta Hospital.

“One of our weaknesses in the community is the fact that we are not united as a bunch of parents and guardians,” Magee said.

“We’re weak. We really have to do this, not only for our individuals but for families who have no say whatsoever.”

Cuts to PDD funding will inevitably result in fewer hours of service for clients with care workers, Renaud said, because the organization refuses to cut staff wages and is already stretched very thin at the administrative level.

Karen Torresan, a north Edmonton resident whose daughter is in full-time care with LoSeCa, said her daughter has blossomed thanks to the program she’s been in for the past two years. This has also saved Torresan from providing care while trying to work full-time, which means sleepless nights and stress.

“I burned out about three years ago,” Torresan said. “Now that I have help, I can’t go back there again.”

Torresan is extremely worried that funding cuts will mean a loss of overnight care for her daughter.

“I couldn’t function and she would lose her independence and her community involvement,” Torresan said.

Gary Huising said his son lives in a group home with three hours of care per day, which is necessary for residents to eat properly, go out socially and buy groceries, he said.

He thinks funding cuts are shortsighted because putting supports in place help people improve and become less of a burden on society.

“You’ve got to try to improve people,” he said.

Last week Seniors and Community Supports Minister Mary Anne Jablonski softened the message around the in-year funding cut, saying it was voluntary and she wouldn’t force organizations to comply.

“If they simply refuse, there's nothing I can do about that. I’m just disappointed that they’re not working with us to try to achieve the best results we can for the program and the province,” she told the Calgary Herald.

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