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Groups say Alberta government cutting programs for the disabled to save money

EDMONTON - Alberta's plan to cut about $12 million from its People with Developmental Disabilities program is scaring disabled people and their families.

EDMONTON - Alberta's plan to cut about $12 million from its People with Developmental Disabilities program is scaring disabled people and their families.

Mary Anne Jablonski, minister of seniors and community supports, said the cuts amount to about two per cent of the programs' $604 million budget.

Jablonski blames the need for the cuts on the economic downturn.

She said she has directed the six regional boards that deliver disabled services to try to achieve the savings by cutting administration before any front-line services.

"People who are depending on these supports are very important to us," Jablonski said Wednesday. "I am asking for savings that will least impact individuals."

Jablonski said the cuts will not affect the Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped program.

Groups affected include People with Developmental Disabilities, Calgary Society for People with Disabilities, Springboard Centre for Adults with Disabilities and the Alberta Association for Community Living.

Wendy McDonald, president of the association, said Premier Ed Stelmach's government is going after the most vulnerable people in Alberta and their families.

McDonald noted that just last month Stelmach promised to look after such groups. She called on the government to reconsider.

"On behalf of the almost 10,000 individuals with developmental disabilities and their families whose lives are being jeopardized, we call upon the premier to keep his word," McDonald said in a release.

"We should be celebrating the holidays and enjoying family rather than living in fear."

Paul Hinman of the Wildrose Alliance Party said while the government needs to reduce spending it should not be going after the disabled.

He suggested the government should instead cut bonuses for government staff and the budget for the premier's office.

"They have chosen to cut front-line services for people with developmental disabilities - the most vulnerable people possible," Hinman said.

"For the Tories to make their first concrete cuts here is repulsive and disgraceful."

 
 
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