A private member’s bill tabled in the legislature by NDP MLA Sandra Jansen would establish an advocate for persons with disabilities in the province.
Jansen said she has been hearing ‘transitions’ are a constant problem, with people slipping through the cracks.
“If you have a person who is FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder) and is making a transition to AISH (Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped), after they turn 18, sometimes they drop right off the radar,” remarked Jansen. “And so if we have one area where we can collate that information — where people can phone and have a conversation — I think that’s one of the important pieces that an advocate can actually take care of and handle.”
If the bill is successful, the new advocate would gather comments from Albertans living with disabilities, review programs and policies, and identify issues of concern.
“If we had a dedicated person who could streamline all of these questions and comments and problems under one roof, we could actually develop the ability to see some patterns and perhaps establish areas where we could add more resources where they would be the most effective,” said Jansen.
St. Albert NDP MLA Marie Renaud, who has been working closely for years with the disabled, described it as crucial move for the province.
“This is something that is so incredibly important I can’t even begin to explain it,” said Renaud. “The systems for people with disabilities in Alberta are complex and, sadly, not every person with a disability has a strong network of friends and family to help guide them through this. And so I think a dedicated person or advocate to support that work is going to be life changing.”
The disability advocate would report to and advise the Minister of Community and Social Services, and submit a report after 12 months about the effectiveness of the current resources.
Jansen would like to hear feedback from you on the proposed bill at albertandpcaucus.ca/pwd-advocate. (td)