2018 October

Nine months after promising a full review, the government has named a 10-member panel tasked with examining a $853-million program that helps 12,000 vulnerable Albertans.

The group examining the Persons with Developmental Disabilities program comprises academics, parents of PDD clients, sector experts and self-advocates. It has one year to complete its work.

Community and Social Services Minister Irfan Sabir announced the review in January.

Sabir told Postmedia Monday he hopes the panel wraps up its public consultations by the end of the year. That will give it nine months to analyze responses and come up with ways to improve the program.

‘This review is different’

A full review of the program was one of the recommendations in the PDD safety standards report — a review that Ann Nicol, co-chairwoman of the new PDD panel, helped pen in 2016.

She said the fact the province is now undertaking a full review makes her optimistic the panel’s work won’t simply end up gathering dust on a shelf somewhere.

“This review is different. It’s independent from government, it’s supported by government and it includes some amazing stakeholders … that are connected and have been for many years,” she said.

Co-chairwoman Dorothy Badry agrees, and says the new report will be a valuable reflection of the voices in the PDD community.

“It’s intended to be relevant, important and hopefully provide direction for the future,” she said.

Sabir expects the review to centre on PDD access, eligibility, transparency and accountability, workplace training, and community involvement and engagement.

“If you really want to stick to (the motto) ‘Nothing about us without us,’ you have to take time to work with the community,” he said.

“We are not just asking an accounting firm to do a cost-cutting exercise. We are working with the community to get this right and make sure we are doing it in a way that improves this program for Albertans who are receiving services to date and into the future.”

Panel members

Dorothy Badry (co-chairwoman): Associate professor of social work at the University of Calgary. Parent of an adult who receives PDD services.

Ann Nicol (co-chairwoman): Member of the Premier’s Council on the Status of Persons with Disabilities and former head of the Alberta Council of Disability Services (ACDS).

Dick Sobsey (co-chairman): Emeritus professor at the University of Alberta. Has studied health, education and human rights of persons with disabilities. Parent of an adult who receives PDD services.

Krista Carr: Executive vice-president of the Canadian Association for Community Living. Brings a strong cross-jurisdictional perspective to the panel.

Ryan Geake: Executive director of Scope Society, involved with Disability Action Hall and vice-president of ACDS.

Dan Huising: Self-advocate from St. Albert.

Lorelei Martin: Executive director of DARTS in Drumheller, a PDD agency.

Norman McLeod: Longtime disability advocate and chairman of the John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights.

Sahana Parameswara: Executive director of Gateway Association in Edmonton.

Johnathon Red Gun: Disability employment worker at Kainai First Nation.

Lloyd Thornhill: Self-advocate from Calgary.



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