Cuts to Disability Funding Prompt Legislature Protest

Last Updated: Wednesday, February 10, 2010 | 5:33 PM MT
CBC News

Wendy MacDonald, president of the Alberta Association for Community Living, spoke at the rally. (CBC)The families of people with developmental disabilities held a protest at the legislature over cuts to a program that helps disabled adults live as independently as possible.

“This is not a political issue. This is a people issue,” said Wendy MacDonald, president of the Alberta Association for Community Living.

In Tuesday’s Alberta budget, the province revealed it had frozen funding for the Persons with Developmental Disabilities program.

The original funding for 2009-10 was supposed to be $603 million but it was rolled back late last year to $597 million. That funding level was to continue
in 2010-11.

But the Stelmach Tories tried to spin Tuesday’s announcement to make it sound like they weren’t making any cuts at all, Calgary-Buffalo Liberal MLA Kent Hehr said.

“They fudged the numbers … they played a little bit of a shell game here and left people still holding the bag.”

Instead, they relied on funding levels set late last year as their benchmark
of comparison for funding in the upcoming fiscal year, he said.

The $6.8 million drop in funding will have an impact on the people and families who rely on the program, the rally was told.

Judy Cabral and her husband care for their two adult sons, Jaret, 29, who has cerebral palsy, and Jeff, 25, who is autistic and non-verbal. Both men attend day programs during the weekend. Cabral is occasionally able to get respite care on the weekend.

“These programs are our lifelines,” Cabral said. “Without them we have no idea how we would continue to function as a family.”

Cabral hasn’t yet seen any cuts to her funding but she worries what may happen.

The protesters brought bags of bottles with them in a symbolic gesture and posed with a giant cheque made out to the Alberta government for $1,403.60, the money they raised in a recent bottle drive.

Reproduced from