06/04/2014 06:23 EDT | Updated 06/16/2017 00:59 EDT

Alberta backtracks on nursing cuts at care home for developmentally disabled

RED DEER, Alta. - The provincial government has reversed a decision to reduce nursing support for residents at a central Alberta care home for the developmentally disabled.

Alberta Health Services said last week that about 90 residents of Michener Centre in Red Deer would no longer have access to a nurse on Sundays and holidays.

Families were told the residents would have to use walk-in clinics, go to a hospital or call the telephone HealthLink service if they required medical care.

Critics of the move suggested it put severely disabled residents at the care home in danger.

A spokesman for the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees says the associate minister for persons with disabilities has confirmed the government has reconsidered.

Jason Heistad says the bigger fight to keep some of Michener Centre's buildings open continues.

The province announced last year that it planned to close the institutional buildings at the care home and move 120 residents into community group homes or seniors facilities.

Lee Kvern, whose 56-year-old sister lives at Michener, said it's great that the government decided not to cut nursing support at the centre.

But she believes it only happened because the province was caught red-handed.

"At bare minimum, it's a meagre olive branch from (associate minister Naresh) Bhardwaj," she said. "I think he did not anticipate us being here 14 months later. I think they're starting to realize we aren't going anywhere."

(Red Deer Advocate)