Families claim victory as province scraps plans to privatize disabled services

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The pandemic added to concerns about new staff taking over during a pandemic from caregivers who’d become like family, said Bloomer.

“We don’t have to worry about new staff putting them at risk,” she said.

The woman was part of a group that protested outside Sawhney’s northeast constituency office last July.

Of the 150 families surveyed by the province, the vast majority expressed support for the current care system, said Sawhney.

“It’s the families and guardians who drove this decision … they were feeling fear and anxiety and advocated beautifully,” she said.

“This is clearly an indication the government is listening to guardians and stakeholders.”

Rajan Sawhney, Minister of Community and Social Services announces that the Alberta government is providing community shelters with $48 million amid the COVID-19 pandemic to increase the amount of space available before cold weather hits. Taken on August,5, 2020
Rajan Sawhney, Minister of Community and Social Services. Photo by Postmedia file

The union representing about 339 potentially impacted caregivers said the decision was the right one and a triumph for compassion.

“We are delighted that the government of Alberta has finally recognized what we all knew all along, that these homes provide an excellent service to the most fragile people in Alberta,” said Kevin Barry, vice-president of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees.

The union said last June that residents, their guardians and staff were given 90 days’ notice of “alternative service delivery” but had been given no meaningful consultation about what that would mean.

Barry said at that time they’d been told by the province that they were hoping to save $3.5 million by making the changes.

And on Friday the union asked for guarantees future admissions would continue to go to those facilities and no service cuts would be made.

Saving taxpayer funds was a goal, though the savings in this case “were never going to be huge,” said Sawhney.

While no cuts have been made, she said there can be no guarantees on how programs are operated in the future.

The government was merely exploring the merits of bringing those group homes in line with 90 per cent of longer-term care delivery in Alberta, she said.

“There’s lots of (non-government) agencies and organizations doing phenomenal work,” said Sawhney.

BKaufmann@postmedia.com

on Twitter: @BillKaufmannjrn

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