EDMONTON—"The Minister of Seniors and Community Supports needs to be transparent and honest about cuts to programs and agencies funded through the six People with Developmental Disabilities (PDD) community boards" says, Bill Moore-Kilgannon, Executive Director of Public Interest Alberta.
"Although The Minister has tried to suggest there will be no impact on services, we are learning that the reality for agencies and families will mean cuts to programs and staff while agencies will not be in a position to accept any new clients."There are a number of important questions that need to be addressed:
- Why is Calgary PDD one of the only regions that is moving ahead in immediate cuts to agencies that will come into effect April 1st, while all other PDD regions are providing shorter term contracts until they know their exact financial situation?
- Why is Calgary PDD projecting a $4.8 million deficit this year given they had $2.588 million surplus funds at the end of last fiscal year? (Page 105, 2008 - 2009 Seniors and Community Support Annual Report)
- Does some of the projected deficit and cuts come because of paying down the management pension plan deficit?
- What has happened to the increased funds that were given to PDD boards last year to pay for a 5% increase in wages for front line staff at community agencies? The government reversed this decision last September and only allowed agencies to provide a one-time bonus of 2.5%. If the budget is the same as last year, will the agencies be allowed to increase front line staff wages or will they be frozen again this year?
- What will happen to the 257 projected new clients in the Calgary region that are coming into the system if agencies are not able to take on any new clients, let alone maintain all of their existing clients due to budget cuts?
- If the Alberta government has the resources for example to increase the subsidy to energy corporations in the Energy Industry Enhancement Drilling Stimulus Program from $441 million to $732 million, why can't they find the funds to address the deficits and cuts to some of Alberta's most vulnerable people?
"Ultimately, it is unfair and unclear why the government is putting community agencies in a very difficult situation where they are being forced to sign contracts with extremely short time lines that will mean reduced services for people with developmental disabilities. The Minister needs to act now to establish a moratorium on funding cuts and implement an open review about the real extent and implications of these cuts," concludes Moore-Kilgannon.