Calgary father struggling without provincial support for adult son with autism
A Calgary man says he has been left without answers from the province and is struggling financially to provide full-time care to his adult son, who is severely autistic.
Last August, Murray McGill learned he would no longer receive funds from the province under the Persons with Developmental Disabilities (PDD) program.
He says he's unclear why it ended, and he doesn't know where things stand now.
McGill describes his 23-year-old son as complex, but also as having many hobbies and passions.
"He's got a personality. He loves going out, golfing, and bowling."
McGill also describes his son as non-verbal and severely autistic.
'NOT MAKING IT EASY'
McGill became a full-time care aide five years ago after an aide whose assistance they got from an agency went awry.
McGill says he used to receive about $4,600 monthly through PDD, but was not offered an explanation when it came to an end.
"(The provincial government is) not making it easy for the families that have severely handicapped kids. Putting them into group homes is not the answer."
For the past nine months, McGill says its been unclear if the province is reconsidering reinstating him as a family member aide, or if the government would provide one.
McGill's wife provides the sole income for the family.
"It takes two salaries to live in Calgary. You can't run a household on one salary," McGill said.
CALLING FOR CHANGES
Officials from Inclusion Alberta, an advocacy organization dedicating to supporting families and people with Autism, says the province needs to reassess PDD.
"In our view, the system in Alberta has become less responsive, less caring, less flexible, the bottom line prevails to a greater degree than it has in the past" said Bruce Uditsky, CEO emeritus of Inclusion Alberta.
"There needs to be a cultural shift in seeing families as not the enemy of the province's budget, but in fact, by supporting families, that's an investment in which all Albertans derive some value."
As for families being paid aide workers through public programming, he says these scenarios should be considered carefully on individual cases.
A spokesperson from the Ministry of Seniors, Community and Social Services, which oversees PDD, provided a statement to CTV News which reads:
"There have been no changes to PDD policy on hiring family members. The PDD program continues work with individuals, their guardians and their families to ensure appropriate services are in place.
"Individuals can appeal most decisions made by the PDD program, such as eligibility for services, the type of services provided and the amount of services provided. Information on how to appeal a decision made by the PDD program can be found on the Government of Alberta's website: https://www.alberta.ca/pdd-how-to-appeal.aspx"
In April, the province announced $240 million in funding for PDD to process an estimated 500 of 800 Albertans on the waitlist for support, by the end of the year.