YOUNG SUPPORT - Friends and supporters of the Michener Centre gathered alongside 32 St. in Red Deer recently

YOUNG SUPPORT - Friends and supporters of the Michener Centre gathered alongside 32 St. in Red Deer recently

Almost 11,000 sign petitions to keep Michener open

Close to 11,000 ‘Keep Michener Open’ petition signatures have been collected since signature collection began just eight weeks ago.

Close to 11,000 ‘Keep Michener Open’ petition signatures have been collected since signature collection began just eight weeks ago.

“This is a major milestone in the fight to keep the Michener Centre in Red Deer open for the 125 vulnerable individuals who have called it home for decades,” said AUPE Vice-President Jason Heistad.

“Keep Michener Open volunteers have collected 10,990 signatures so far. The vast majority of signatures are coming from Red Deer and more signatures are being gathered every single day. Signature collection will continue throughout the summer.

“Red Deer’s Progressive Conservative MLAs Mary Anne Jablonski and Cal Dallas should be very concerned. They need to listen to those who elected them. They need to stand up for their community or the community will elect people who do.”

AUPE President Guy Smith said the amount of support to keep Michener open from all over Alberta has been “tremendous”.

“That support has only grown since the Redford government announced plans to axe $42-million from the $96-million budget for disability services.”

More than 3,700 letters have been sent to Premier Alison Redford, Honourable Frank Oberle, Jablonski, Dallas, Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith, Raj Sherman and Brian Mason urging the government to keep Michener open.

As well. Red Deer City council, the Red Deer Public School Division, the town of Innisfail, the Town of Springbrook, the Town of Penhold, the Town of Bowden, the Town of Olds, local 054 (Edmonton Catholic teachers) and local 80 (Red Deer Catholic teachers) of the Alberta Teachers Association, the Society of Parents and Friends of Michener Centre, all Alberta opposition parties and many more organizations have come out against the closure of Michener.

“There are more communities and organizations out there about to make their opposition to the closure public as well,” said Heistad.

“The Redford government must address the concerns over its decision to close Michener. There is no shame in listening to the public. There is no shame in turning a wrong into a right. Keeping Michener open for the residents who currently reside there is the right thing to do.”

Michener Centre is home to some of the most developmentally disabled adults and seniors in Alberta. It has won numerous provincial awards for the services it provides.

In 2008, the Progressive Conservative government promised residents, families and guardians in writing that individuals currently living in Michener would never be forced out.

The Redford government abruptly announced the closure of Michener Centre in March without consultation of residents, families, guardians or staff.

The petitions will be tabled in the Alberta legislature and will become an official record of opposition to the Michener Centre closure.

All three opposition parties tabled around 8,500 signatures earlier this month.

-Fawcett

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