Mar 2, 2015

"No more regulations of our homes and our lives, we are regulated enough"

Last week a couple members of the Hall attended the South Region's information session on the "Persons with Developmental Disabilities (PDD) Safety Standards" held at the Lethbridge Public Library, held on Friday, February 27th, 2015. 

We were encouraged by the many questions asked by self-advocates, family members and allies directed to PDD, Alberta Health and Environmental Protection Services. We were also very thankful there are open conversations about the safety standards. Yet, we left wondering why these conversations did not happen before heavy handed rules, laws and safety inspections took place? 

Did these safety conversations happen too late? 
Why is the government only targeting people with disabilities?

Brad Robertson, a member of the Disability Action Hall was met with an overwhelming silence from the Health Services, PDD and Environmental Protection and Safety presenters when he commented "Don't you think we are overly inspected in our homes with regulations, and in our lives? Don't you think we are regulated enough?” 

Brad's statement was reinforced when the inspectors said they are about 75% done and out of the 221 homes, very few needed larger windows or securing of loose handrails. The numbers of homes that are compliant indicate our homes are safer than the average home on the rental market. 

Hall Members continue to share concerns the PDD Safety Standards legislation unfairly stigmatizes people with disabilities in the community for the sake of the government needing to collect ‘evidence' our homes are safe. 

And the disability community continues to struggle with what happened to Betty Anne Gagnon where government systems failed to keep her safe. Betty lived with a developmental disability and her sister was sentenced to 20 months for failing to provide the necessities of life. Even if Betty was alive today, she would still not be protected by the safety standards as she would be exempt living with her sister. 

We want the standards to stop. And we want the conversations to continue.

Could it also be we need to focus on Albertan's homes who fall outside of PDD funded services? 

Could it also be instead of targeting people who have a disability in the community, the better way to make homes safe for Alberatns is to make rules that apply to everyone? 

This week and the following,  members of the Hall will host two PDD Safety Standards meetings. We have an MLA coming on Thursday, March 5th and we will  also be hear about the education and advocacy efforts from the South region. 

Stay tuned. 


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