Rally at Premier's office protests disabled program cuts
Published Friday, May 31, 2013 5:58AM MDT Last Updated Friday, May 31, 2013 6:34PM MDT
Hundreds of protesters are gathered outside Redford’s office in southwest Calgary while many more are outside the provincial legislature in Edmonton.
They are concerned about the largest ever set of planned cuts to the support programs for people with developmental disabilities.
$42M in cuts will be made on July 1.
Ryan Geake, one of the organizers of the rally in Calgary who works with Calgary's SCOPE Society, says that they hope to bring Redford's attention to the issues.
He says that $42M in cuts represents a lot of support for disabled persons in the province. "It's the kind of support that helps them get out to their volunteer jobs, to their doctor, to grocery shopping, and to their family and friends. It helps them live in their community, so that mean basement suites and houses. Those are supports that are critical for people to be active citizens in this province."
Geake says that they are very concerned with the cuts because there hasn't been any more money added to the area - all the cuts have come from the Community Access program.
He adds that he believes there is a miscommunication between them and the government. "To us, it's people just getting what they need and, obviously, the government feels there is an excess in services. When we think about $42M in cuts, we think that's really going to hurt people. They say we're concerned about people's jobs - we're really concerned about the lives of people with disabilities. We hope we can get somewhere today."
Human Services Minister Dave Hancock is expected to discuss changes to the program on Friday afternoon.
The last rally, held in Edmonton earlier this week, was overshadowed by a heavy police presence after one man, who was seen with a knife, was spotted sitting in a meeting with the minister.
Police in that city say that a man did make threats towards a political leader, likely the minister, and was arrested.
A second person was arrested outside the Italian Cultural Centre, where the meeting took place, but was released without charges.
Charges are pending against the first suspect.
The rally in Calgary begins at 10 a.m.
(With files from CTV Edmonton)