42 million in cuts to services for the disabled in Alberta!
Over the past several months you may have been aware that Persons with Developmental Disabilities (PDD) has been directed, along with many other social programs, to make arrangements for budget cuts. These cutbacks are happening alongside an effort by PDD to better regulate funding models for people. These changes, unfortunately, make what we need to present at this time more complicated. Administrative changes around assessing support needs is co-mingled with the severe funding cutbacks being experienced across the province of Alberta.
PDD has been asked to cut 43 million dollars to community agencies. They are using a funding allocation model that is largely informed by the Supports Intensity Scale (SIS). When the SIS was introduced several years ago, we were told the tool would not be used for setting funding allocations and its creator, Robert Schalock, has said that it is not a complete assessment of need. This tool measures functional and adaptive skills, it is not intended, nor valid, for measuring people’s needs around their mental health conditions, nor other variables such as trauma histories or people’s unique characteristics.
PDD has been asked to reduce funds to service providers. They are using the SIS without any other evaluative tools to identify people’s support needs. These identified needs then have been assigned an average funding allocation. This is where organizational change at PDD and funding cutbacks begin to affect our community.
One community organization, Neighborhood Bridges will be faced with direct budget cuts of 11%. Based on aggregated profiles of the people who Neighborhood Bridges works for (not everyone has a SIS done so they made their best judgment on what support levels people are at) they came to a number. This figure is also impacted by the direction from the Minister to cut over 27 million dollars from the budget in the Edmonton region alone! Every agency will be hit!
For Neighborhood Bridges this translates into $21,500.00 per month – this is money used to pay staff in people’s homes!
In order to survive with these cuts and with such short notice Neighborhood Bridges is left with few options, these include:
1. Limit the hours of support to people
2. Congregate them by moving them in together and building a group home
3. Make a ‘day program’ with 1:3 or 1:4 supports
4. Shut down the agency
Staff members at Neighborhood Bridges do not believe that they can keep people safe or continue their services safely.
Each year Neighborhood Bridges has supported people in our community to be healthier and each year they have reduced their direct costs in doing so. They have provided services with honesty and compassion and been studious in their management of funds.
These cuts are dangerous and poorly planned, leaving many people at risk of injury and even death.
Neighborhood Bridges asks for our support. Here is how you can help:
Attend an ALL Community Meeting at Neighborhood Bridges office (# 206, 11803 – 125 St. Edmonton Alberta Phone: 780.758.2815) at 6 pm Tuesday May 14, 2013. This meeting will be used to brief the entire community on what is happening, answer questions, and discuss options. The discussion will include these ideas:
1. Book a meeting with your MLA
2. Send a letter to your MLA, and copy the letter to Minister Hancock, Minister Oberle, and Premier Redford
3. Attend a Public Rally at the Alberta Legislature on May 15, 2013 from Noon to 1 pm and make your voices heard.
A postcard campaign has also been started by Disability Action Hall. You can add your concerns to the voices of many by joining the “My Face, My Place” campaign. More information can be found here: http://www.actionhall.ca/2013_05_01_archive.html
These cuts are affecting the most vulnerable people in our communities. It is time to be heard and stop these unnecessary cuts. Please ACT NOW!