Service cuts for Albertans with vision loss
Published Wednesday, September 11, 2019 11:36AM MDT
Last Updated Wednesday, September 11, 2019 6:36PM MDT
A funding shortfall has led to cuts in health care for Albertans who are blind or partially sighted.
“We were notified in early July that our funding application was not approved, and that funding was necessary to continue the level of operations that we have been providing for the province,” said Matthew Kay, Executive Director of Vision Loss Rehabilitation Alberta.
Vision Loss Rehabilitation Alberta (VLRA) says the loss of funding is forcing them to cut back on certain services and even close offices.
“We have been forced to re-examine our operating structure and have had to close four of our community offices in Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, Grande Prairie, and Red Deer.”
The offices in Edmonton and Calgary will remain open, but Kay says their remaining staff and resources are likely to become stretched thin.
“We are going to be continuing to provide rehabilitation service to individuals in rural areas.”
VLRA helps people impacted by blindness with care and training to enhance their independence and safety.
“These services are needed so individuals living with vision loss can maintain their independence at home, in the community and at work,” says Kay.
Sandra Pavao-Mena, an employee with VLRA and also a client since she was 15, is worried about the impact these changes will have on their almost 1,400 clients.
“As a client myself I know how impactful those services have been on my own life,” said Pavao-Mena. “I’m not sure where they would be without these services, I’m not sure how they would manage their life or feel hope for their future.”
Kay says they have been in continued conversations with the province and that the province seems committed to engaging with their organization.
“A funding agreement between the Ministry of Community and Social Services and CNIB remains in place and has not been cut. Funding remains stable, as it was under the previous government,” said Kassandra Kitz, Press Secretary for the Ministry of Community and Social Services.
“We will continue to work with the government for more funding in the future,” said Kay.
With files from CTV News Edmonton's Timm Bruch