Friends and families of Michener residents have received an announcement that is sure to lift spirits after months of uncertainty – the Michener Centre will remain open.
Premier Jim Prentice announced last week that the centre for developmentally disabled citizens would remain open until those remaining at the centre live out the rest of their lives.
For all of the former residents that have been transitioned out of Michener and into communities there is an option to return to the centre and live out the remainder of their lives in their previous home, he said.
“This announcement is about families and protecting the families in this province. The residents I met with today and back in August live here with a life-giving community organized around their special needs,” said Prentice.
“I’m offering, as Premier, to residents still living here, to their guardians and families, the choice of remaining at the Michener Centre if that is the best option for them and their families.”
Prentice said that he, “Thinks it is inhumane to relocate severely disabled Albertans from their homes in the autumn of their lives,” and that, “The least we can do as a society and a government” is to ensure a level of care that any person would expect for their own family.
Mayor Tara Veer was present at the conference and expressed her gratitude for this decision.
“This is absolutely a great day for Red Deer. Our council adopted a very public position on this, saying that in this public infrastructure, it needs to remain public and we need to uphold the rights of the residents who live here and have lived here for many years,” she said.
“We’re so pleased that Premier Prentice and his cabinet have made this decision – it’s the right decision for the people of Red Deer, and it’s ultimately the right decision for the province as well.”
Prentice addressed the residents who have already transitioned out of Michener and their families by saying he was eager to work with them and transition them back to Michener if that is the right decision for them.
“These families were given assurance that successive governments would ensure their loved ones would be here and would be well taken care of as they live out the rest of their days here.
“This will be afforded going forward. In terms of the people who have left the facility, we will do everything in our power, if they choose to come back, to accommodate them,” he said.
“The Michener Centre staff provide a unique, safe, caring environment for those who are developmentally disabled. In many cases, their quality of life depends on the comfort and the familiarity of this place for people who have lived here essentially for all of their lives.”
The residents at the Michener Centre will be given accommodation in the south portion of the facility and in designated group homes on site.
Beginning immediately, the closure of the facilities will halt and all current residents will be able to stay at the Centre. Prentice said those wishing to leave the facility may do so, and proper transition techniques would be put in place for them to ensure a safe transition.
As of yet, there is no official word on whether the Centre will remain open after the current residents have lived out their lives, or as to whether any new clients will be taken into the care of Michener staff.