Calgary dad says autistic son in funding limbo

A single dad says his family is in limbo waiting for provincial funding for his developmentally disabled adult son.

Advocate says many being put 'on hold' as Alberta plans $42 million in PDD cuts for July 1

A single Calgary dad says his family is in limbo waiting for provincial funding for his developmentally disabled adult son. 3:09

A single Calgary dad says his family is in limbo waiting for provincial funding for his developmentally disabled adult son.

Guy Emond began applying for People with Developmental Disabilities (PDD) funding for Justin a year ago, knowing that his son’s 18th birthday was looming. Justin is autistic and needs constant supervision.

Justin still has no funding today, which means no support workers, no day programs and no therapy.

"Right now it seems like we're on the edge of desperation. I know I'm maxed out," said Emond.

"It’s a constant anxiety and stress that you live with. And without those resources from PDD, it seems like you're living in limbo. It's not even two steps forward one step back. It's just treading water until things happen."

In the past, Justin received funding through a program called Family Support for Children with Disabilities.

His dad began to file the paperwork for PPD funding in May of 2012, knowing his son's supports would be cut off when he turned 18 in November of that year.

The department told him the paperwork never arrived, so Emond started again last August.

Millions in cuts coming

Elaine Yost, an advocate for the disabled who runs Optional Rehabilitation Services, said the Emond family is not alone.

"We're hearing that this is happening quite frequently. People are being put on hold," she said. "It becomes a very anxious time. You don't know what to do. "

Alberta also plans to roll out $42 million in cuts to community supports for PDD July 1.

The drastic budget cuts, along with a complete overhaul of the way the province assesses individual need, is causing the entire system to breakdown, she said.

However, in a written statement, a provincial spokeswoman said PDD applications are not being slowed as a result of the budget process.

"While I can’t speak to the specific situation you are referring to, PDD does have a wait list and has had a managed uptake process in place that gives priority to individuals with health and safety needs. This is not a new process and is not related to the current transformation of PDD."

Meanwhile, Calgary and Cochrane families have another opportunity to learn about the province's plans on Monday.

Associate Minister Frank Oberle met with concerned Albertans at the South Legion in Calgary today, but also has meetings planned at the Bowness Legion at 1 p.m. Tuesday and the Cochrane Alliance Church at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

Many concerned parents

Vivian McCallum was at the standing-room-only meeting about the future of disability programs held in Calgary today.

She says the government's plan to cut tens of millions from community access programs terrifies her.

Her 35-year-old daughter has cerebral palsy and osteoporosis and needs one-on-one care.

"So when my agency tells me between 20 and 30 per cent cut in her program, you can hear my fear," she said. "There's no way they could actually take care of her." 

Oberle has pledged to communicate better with families about the upcoming changes to disability programs.

He says the budget is flexible.

"If we need funding, we'll get funding," said Oberle. 

"We have additional flexibility in the $4.2 billion Human Services budget. If we have to go back to treasury board we will. We will not let this transformation be about budget because that's not what it's about. It's about fixing the system."