The provincial government is being accused of tearing apart a community in its decision to close a care facility for developmentally disabled adults in Red Deer.
About 125 people call the Michener Centre home, a sprawling facility that’s been in operation since 1923 and once had more than 2,000 residents.
The decision to close the centre was partly motivated by a belief among provincial officials that developmentally disabled people don’t belong in institutional settings.
But former caregiver Brenda Stewart said that doesn’t apply in this case.
"They are definitely losing a home. This is their home. It has been their home. You know, this generalization that it's society's wishes you know that these folks will be better treated or happier in the community. I just don't buy it. I don't swallow that at all," she said.
Bill Lough, whose brother lived at the facility for many years, agreed.
"This is their family. They know their workers, there’s so much familiarity," he said.
Stewart, who now works for the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, said about 400 workers stand to lose their jobs when the centre closes next April.
"You know, the fight is just begun. Nobody is going to take this lightly," she said.
Red Deer Mayor Morris Flewwelling said the decision to close the Michener Centre caught the city by surprise.
"We knew it was going to close eventually, we just didn’t know when and how," he said.
A few of the group homes on the Michener grounds will continue to operate after the centre closes.