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Hancock and Bhullar must halt movement of Michener residents, keep centre open: Towle

EDMONTON, AB (August 21, 2014): With horror stories marking the moves of former Michener residents along with the sense of limbo consuming residents and family members of the Michener Centre, Premier Dave Hancock and Human Services Minister Manmeet Bhullar must halt the movement of all residents and commit to keeping the Michener Centre open, Wildrose Human Services Critic Kerry Towle said today.

There have been five deaths of former Michener residents after being moved away from their decade’s long home at the Michener Centre. Towle said there can be no question that shuffling around highly fragile individuals creates untold stress for residents and creates declining health outcomes.

“The deaths of former Michener residents after having to go through the traumatic experience of being ripped from their homes is tragic and our condolences go to all the family members involved,” Towle said.

Wildrose has long opposed the closure of Michener, a home for people with severe mental and physical disabilities, due to the highly specialized care it offers for residents.

“Residents and their families have literally had their lives torn up around them for over the past year and continue to live in anxiety waiting in limbo to find out if they can stay in their homes or not,” Towle said. “Premier Hancock was at the helm of Human Services when the government first announced the closure of Michener, he, along with Human Services Minister Manmeet Bhullar, owes it to these families to halt the movement of residents and commit to keeping the facility open.”

The uncertainty of the PC leadership race has created a sense of paralysis throughout the government and has left many residents feeling they are in limbo as they are pressured to move out of the Michener Centre.  

Of the 125 residents slated to move out of Michener when this decision was announced 17 months ago, 32 were wards under the office of the Public Guardian of Alberta. The majority of those who have moved out so far, have been moved out by the public guardian.

Diane Esslinger, the sister of a current resident at Michener, said the government’s effort to shuttle residents away from what has become their permanent home for decade’s lacks compassion and common sense.

“The actions of this government have left a tremendous deal of stress, fear and anxiety for myself, but more importantly for my brother, Larry,” Esslinger said.  “The Premier has been the architect of this mess.  He has the power to halt the transitions and reverse the decision before any more harm is done.”