Regulations aimed at making group homes safer for residents will make those homes unaffordable, say people with developmental disabilities.
Dozens of people waved placards in a spring blizzard at the Alberta Legislature on Wednesday, asking the province to reconsider new rules that come into effect today.
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"I do want people to be safe, but I also want it to be affordable," said Pat Corbett, mother of two sons with autism.
While her sons live at home, Corbett worries that will not always be the case.
'When you add it all up, that's tens of thousands of dollars."' - Jules Lefebvre, Lo-Se-Ca Foundation
"We have our family home that the guys live in," she said. "I can not afford to change it over to all the different things like the sprinklers, firewalls, all those kinds of things."
Advocates say they're worried people could be left homeless.
They're calling on the government to consult with those affected and to provide more time and funding so the changes can be made.
"We have to have hard-wired smoke alarms on each level," Jules Lefebvre, director of operations with Lo-Se-Ca Foundation, said during a tour of a group home in north Edmonton that houses four people.
"We were told this wall here needs to be a firewall, and then we have to install an exit down on this level here and also install sprinkler systems and, in addition to that, the slow burning drywall. So when you add it all up, that's tens of thousands of dollars."
NDP Leader Rachel Notley said the government has done a poor job of introducing the new safety regulations.
"I think what the concern is that the rules and imposition of the rules continues to be very subjective and very unpredictable, and so what you're doing is injecting a whole bunch of instability into the lives of these people who need that less than anything," she said.
The government has said it will not force anyone out of their homes, but those homes must be safe.