Dad Fears for Daughter in Face of Disability Cutbacks

Last Updated: Sunday, January 3, 2010 | 2:32 PM MT
CBC News

An Alberta father fears budgetary cuts to organizations that assist people with disabilities will put his daughter’s future in jeopardy.

In December, the provincial government announced it was cutting about $12 million in funding to people with disabilities. The province blamed those cuts on the economic downturn.

One of the agencies affected is the E.C.H.O. Society in northern Alberta, which helps support Dorian Despins’ daughter, Talanya, 35.

She was born with brain damage, but Despins said through the E.C.H.O. Society she has made significant progress.

Despins said his daughter now works part time, pays her own bills and lives with a roommate under supervision. “Through all the trials and tribulations we’ve been through, she’s coming out the other end in a real positive manner, growing both in emotional intelligence, physical skills, social skills,” he said.

“Our biggest fear is that she’s going to regress.”

Despins said E.C.H.O. has warned the cuts will mean further reductions.

“If they take those resources away … I can’t, in all good conscience, leave somebody who is unable to take care of themselves,” he said.

“The care won’t be adequate there anymore … and then what do we do? I’m 56 years old – do I bring her home? If I bring her home, what do I – quit work?”

Mary Anne Jablonski, minister of seniors and community supports, has said the cuts amount to less than two per cent of an overall annual budget of $604 million. She said on average, more than $61,000 is spent per client each year.

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