Government plans next steps in disability program review

Rajan Sawhney is sworn in as minister of community and social services during the swearing-in of Premier Jason Kenney’s government at Government House in Edmonton on April 30, 2019. IAN KUCERAK / POSTMEDIA

Alberta’s long-awaited review into a billion-dollar disability program will be released in the next few weeks, along with the government’s next steps to improve the system.

The Persons with Developmental Disabilities (PDD) review began in 2018 under the NDP. The government-appointed panel wrapped up consultations with the public, advocates and interest groups late last year.

Alberta’s new Community and Social Services Minister Rajan Sawhney was handed a copy of the panel’s draft report when she was sworn into office in April.

Sawhney’s press secretary Natasha Kornak told Postmedia in an email the minister has gone over the report and discussed the government’s planned direction with co-chairs of the review panel, stakeholders and the disability community.

“She looks forward to releasing the report to the community at large in the coming weeks as well as outlining next steps,” Kornak said.

The review is of particular importance to the disability community after reports PDD claims across the province have been being delayed since the UCP took power in April. There are about 12,000 Albertans who receive support through the PDD program, with amounts varying depending on each person’s needs. The province spent $853 million on PDD in 2017-18.

Continuing conversations

While there’s no word yet on what the PDD review might contain, one researcher is crossing her fingers it’s just the beginning of conversations about the program.

Nilima Sonpal-Valias has researched disability policy for more than 20 years and is currently the director of strategic initiatives and stakeholder engagement with the Alberta Council of Disability Services.

Her paper, released Thursday by the University of Calgary School of Public Policy, examines the history of the program.

Sonpal-Valias found despite numerous funding increases over the years, PDD program beneficiaries, their families, advocates and service providers feel the system still has many challenges.

“The review and its aftermath offer a timely occasion for all these groups to offer their input and make recommendations to help influence policy reform,” she wrote.

Click here for full article.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.