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Minister responds to fatality inquiry report

Minister of Community and Social Services Irfan Sabir issued the following statement in response to the report from the fatality inquiry into the death of Betty Anne Gagnon who received services funded by the Persons with Developmental Disabilities program:

“The death of Betty Anne Gagnon is a heartbreaking tragedy. And we owe it to her to take all needed and necessary actions to avoid similar tragedies from happening again. Albertans deserve to see real action to stop tragedies like this from happening again. That is why we have made significant changes to improve the safety and well-being of Albertans who receive supports through the Persons with Developmental Disabilities (PDD) program.

“These changes include implementing new training for staff, prioritizing individuals with urgent needs for PDD supports, creating new accountability mechanisms and launching a provincial helpline to report suspected abuse or neglect.

“Our government has also increased funding for the PDD program by $150 million to ensure that more Albertans have access to supports.

“We thank Judge Collinson for these important recommendations and are committed to taking further action, in consultation with the disability community, to improve the well-being and safety of persons with disabilities as part of the PDD review.”

Facts on the PDD system  

In the last 10 years, changes to policy and process to improve PDD safety and accountability have included the following requirements:

  • mandatory in-person meetings with PDD clients
  • increasing training for staff
  • identifying risk and considering family and caregiver needs as part of the PDD application and service planning processes
  • prioritizing individuals with urgent and critical needs.

In the coming weeks, a new provincial phone line will be launched to ensure Albertans have a centralized place to call if they have concerns about abuse or neglect. All calls will be tracked and followed up on, with set timelines.

Further actions to support Albertans with disabilities and improve the PDD program will be looked at as part of the PDD review. Issues related to access, outcomes and family engagement will be discussed in consultation with individuals with disabilities, families, staff and advocates. More information and a survey to gather input on the scope of the review is available at alberta.ca/pddreview


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