A team that’s helping to come up with new policy alternatives for how the province approaches safety for people with disabilities has submitted its final report.
In the Supporting Safe and Inclusive Lives report, feedback was gathered from 2,000 Albertans over the last year by the Persons with Developmental Disabilities (PDD) Safety Standards Consultation Team. The report was filed to Human Services Minister Irfan Sabir Wednesday as a consultation into how to allow people with disabilities to lead safer lives while being treated the same as other Albertans.
Hundreds of people gathered on the steps of the legislature Friday afternoon, protesting cuts to the Persons with Developmental Disabilities Program in our province.
“We, as a team, felt we should never forget that people with disabilities have the right and the opportunity to live in their community of choice while being supported to live safely and in community,” team chair John te Linde told reporters.
His team presented the government with 11 recommendations that he says call on lawmakers to adopt a more “holistic” view of safety for people with disabilities.
“Safety is more than just about physical structures – things like fire alarms and that kind of stuff – it’s about people having the necessary supports from properly trained people to live safely in their homes and in community,” te Linde said. “So it’s a much broader approach and perspective to safety than the earlier PDD safety standards regulations were.”
PDD safety regulations were first brought in after a fatality inquiry looked into the death of a woman at her Capilano group home in 2007. Marilyn Lane had Down syndrome and died when she was unable to escape her basement suite when the fire broke out.
Previously proposed standards were subjected to criticism because those with disabilities felt they weren’t involved in drafting them, something the government says is different now.
“The concern we heard loud and clear (is), that safety is broader than that, that regulation was restrictive and was not implemented in consultation so this is the first time that we are hearing from the people whose safety we are talking about,” Sabir said.
The cost burden of implementing safety features was previously placed on landlords, restricting where people were able to live if landlords did not spend the money to make the improvements or if they tried to pass the cost on to renters.
“When you’re faced with the possibility or the requirement to put in a sprinkler system in a rental suite- that’s very difficult,” te Linde said. “For many of them, they were forced with the option of having to move to somewhere that they couldn’t afford.”
Sabir said the government would take some time to review the recommendations and to decide how best to implement them.
(With files from Global News)(djs)