A sector with urgent needs. Low wages, demanding work, chronic underfunding, and increasingly complex needs in individuals requiring supports have eroded the capacity of organizations to provide sustainable, quality services. After COVID-19, the workforce is exhausted, turnover is at a 12-year high of 30%, inflation costs are high, and close to 2,000 individuals were still waiting for services (600) or in service planning stage (1,400) as of December 2021, according to the most recent data available via the Alberta Government open data portal. This is unacceptable for a sector that delivers essential supports to vulnerable Albertans.
Government is an essential partner. Supporting individuals with developmental disabilities to live full lives in the community is a legislated responsibility of the provincial government. Full collaboration of the government is essential for the survival and success of the CDS sector.
There are significant opportunities right now. The provincial government is well-positioned to work with us to develop solutions for our common goals. Alberta’s economic outlook is strong: the government has forecasted surplus budget for the next three years, and the provincial population is expected to surge, which will significantly ease labour market pressures experienced during the pandemic. The CDS sector and the government can jointly leverage these opportunities to address the urgent challenges faced by the sector.
The next four years are critical. Who we vote for in this election will determine how well our sector’s needs are understood and met. It is imperative that all political parties and candidates understand that our workforce crisis and the challenges faced by our underfunded organizations have a serious impact on the quality of supports for Albertans who depend on us every day.