Edmonton Sun COLUMN AND…

Health Services, things were changing. Existing programs — by the way, thanks for coming — were being dismantled and big corporate home-care companies would take over.
In other words, we had all bought our own homes, contributed to the community, had jobs, paid taxes, and enjoyed a wee dram of good 18-year-old scotch in the evening. Yet, we had lost our voice: a voice to control our own care.
AHS had no idea who they had picked an argument with. We used social media, collecting more than 1,000 names on an online petition. We even invited then-premier Allison Redford for a coffee meeting.

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            As one can probably imagine, my initial reaction to this letter, and that of my fellow residents, was complete and total shock. For the first few minutes and hours, it was all I could do to wrap my head around the fact that, without any kind of consultation whatsoever, AHS had essentially nullified 30 years of hard-won gains made by disability-rights advocates, who had fought for the right of people with disabilities to live independently in the community. I kept having thoughts like: Canada is still a free, democratic country, isn’t it? I’m still a tax-paying Canadian citizen, aren’t I? If these things are still true, then how can Alberta Health Services have the right to arbitrarily blow up all three of the user-directed homecare services that an entire generation of Edmontonians with disabilities had fought to establish and develop over the course of three decades? My time to entertain these initial shock-motivated questions of HOW this could happen was very short. It was happening, and AHS had decreed that the transition in homecare providers was to be completed by August 1st. If we were going to launch any kind of campaign to try to stop this ill-conceived plan which would place our way of living—and, indeed, our very lives—in jeopardy, we had to begin that campaign immediately. Thus, in the blink of an eye, my neighbours, friends, and colleagues in the local disability community found ourselves in all-out war mode.
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