Tell government to Stop, Look, Listen

In the past few years, we have seen many changes to our work as part of a transformational process at PDD. But have these changes improved the lives of people with developmental disabilities? Have the PDD Safety Standards Regulations made people's lives safer, or have they put community living at risk? Has the Supports Intensity Scale (SIS) given PDD and services a more accurate picture of individuals' support needs than they had before from service provider assessments? Do individuals have more control over their lives than before or less? Are you spending more time on paperwork for PDD instead of providing supports that helps individuals achieve their goals?

If your answer to any or all of these questions is "yes," then it is time to join ADWA, ACDS, service provider councils and self-advocacy groups in writing to the Human Services Minister and your MLA and ask them to STOP, LOOK, and LISTEN.

  • Stop the changes that are happening at PDD. Suspend the PDD Safety Standards Regulation and its Standard 8 inspections.
  • Look at the practices in place that support levels of safe community living comparable to what the rest of us experience. Reinstate "dignity of risk" as a guiding principle of the field. Reconsider which roles are most efficiently held by a skilled disability workforce and what is required to fund, monitor and evaluate the provision of services for individual Albertans with developmental disabilities—the role defined for the PDD Program in its own policy manual.
  • Listen to what stakeholders in the system—individuals with disabilities, families, disability workers, service providers and others—say is needed to have a system that truly helps individuals with developmental disabilities to have opportunities to exercise self-determination and to be fully included in community life, as identified in the Purpose section of the PDD Program Policy Manual.

New MLAs and Ministers have heard from government workers that PDD changes have been based on community consultations. Our elected officials need to know that community consultation over the past few years has largely consisted of government presenting their plan for community comment after the wheels of change are already turning. When concerns have been expressed, people have been thanked for their comments but nothing has changed. This is not community consultation or engagement and elected decision-makers need to know the truth.

We need your help

At present, the government is counting the number of letters they receive on a topic as an indicator of whether there are issues to be addressed. The more letters they get, the higher the priority for action. Based on comments from our recent compensation and commitment survey, we know some of the impacts you have experienced.

What makes a good letter?

A good letter does not need to be long. It should include the following elements:

  1. Say who you are and what you are writing about (name the topic)
  2. Say why they should listen to you, such as having personal experience, seeing a problem with a government rule or decision, or having ideas for how to make things better.
  3. Describe the situation and the problem it creates for people.
  4. Share any ideas you have to fix the problem.
  5. Offer to talk some more so government understands the issue, or work together to fix the problem. Include your phone number or e-mail so they can contact you to talk.
  6. Ask a good question. Government people must write back to you if you ask a question. You may ask what the person will you do to fix the problem or how you can get involved.
  7. Say you will contact them if you do not hear from them in a few weeks. (Then follow through with a phone call or e-mail.)
  8. Thank them for listening to you.
  9. Sign the letter and print your name and full address below. This is important when you are writing to your MLA so that he or she knows that they are your representative in government.

If you send the letter by mail or hand-deliver it, be sure to include both the MLA or Minister's full address on the envelope AND your return address. Sometimes the letter will not reach the government official without a return address.

Make it personal

Elected representatives judge how important an issue is to you by the amount of effort you put into your communication. Signing a petition takes very little effort. Printing out and signing a form letter takes very little more. But making your letter a bit different from other people's letter on the same topic shows that the issue affects you or those you care about personally.

Here are some ideas for personalizing your Stop, Look, and Listen letter. Pick just one or two of your experiences that clearly show how changes in the system have affected you and your ability to help the individuals you support achieve the outcomes they want in their lives.

  • Are you spending more time on paperwork and less time making a difference than before? How much time? Are you paid for time spent on paperwork?
  • Have PDD requirements (such as home inspections and their aftermath) meant your time is spent booking inspections, explaining requirements to individuals, families or landlords, arranging renovations or finding alternate accommodations for individuals, and addressing individuals’ emotional responses to the situation instead of helping them achieve their goals?
  • Have you had to postpone service planning and review meetings multiple times because PDD staff were not available or did not return messages about their availability?
  • Have you had to advocate for a SIS to be redone because the answers clearly did not reflect the individual’s support needs?
  • Have changes to your job due to new PDD requirements left you scrambling to comply or feeling unprepared and bewildered? Have you been unable to get a straight answer when you asked for clarification or, worse yet, been accused of being difficult, uncooperative or insubordinate?
  • Do you feel system safeguards are designed based on the idea that you are unskilled labour instead of a skilled professional and cannot solve problems based on logic, good information and ethical values?
  • Do you have to work multiple jobs because the disability sector wages are too low and benefits too limited to make ends meet with inflation? Is your rate of pay similar to that of the individual you support?
  • Have you required a stress or medical leave due to the demands of the work, or are you expecting you may need one soon? 

Sample Stop, Look and Listen letter

[Your name]
[Your address]


The Honourable Irfan Sabir
Minister of Human Services
Office of the Minister
402 Legislature Building
10800 - 97 Avenue
Edmonton, AB  T5K 2B6

Dear Minister Sabir,

My name is [name] and I am writing to ask you to stop the changes within the PDD system, look at their impact on people's lives and listen to those who have been affected. I have been a [job title] in the disability services sector for [number] years. I work hard to help individuals have a good life in their community and reach the goals they have said is important to them. But changes to the PDD system in the last few years have made it harder to achieve the outcomes that the PDD program says are its purpose.

Let me give you an example from my experience. [Share a true story without names that shows one of the problems with the system.]

People who receive or provide services know what the problems are that need to be solved. We understand how different solutions will affect people. We have always been ready to work together with government to develop plans that will work efficiently and effectively. But community consultations either do not happen or only ask for a rubber stamp to plans that are already happening. When we tell them about problems with plans, nothing changes. This needs to stop. We are asking that the government initiate an MLA-led full review of the PDD system to ensure we are heard. In the meantime, suspend the PDD Safety Standards Regulation and other changes that have threatened the ability of individuals with developmental disabilities to live in homes of their choosing in communities where they have deep roots.

What will you do to ensure that we have a real voice again? Thank you for your attention to this matter that affects so many of us. Please contact me at [phone number], [email address]  or my address below with your reply or to ask for more details of my experience.


[your signature]

[your name in print]
[your address and other contact information]

cc: Mr. Tony Clark
     MLA Marie Renaud
    [your MLA]

Where to send your letter

Please send your letter to Human Services Minister Irfan Sabir, his Chief of Staff Tony Clark and your own MLA, with a copy to MLA Marie Renaud (formerly executive director of LoSeCa in St. Albert). Click here to download an Excel spreadsheet of all the MLAs and their contact information. If you don't know the name of your constituency, visit and enter your address.

Contact Minister Sabir at

The Honourable Irfan Sabir
Minister of Human Services
Office of the Minister
402 Legislature Building
10800 - 97 Avenue
Edmonton, AB  T5K 2B6

 Contact his Chief of Staff at

Mr. Tony Clark                                      
Office of the Minister, Human Services
402 Legislature Building
10800 - 97 Avenue
Edmonton, AB  T5K 2B6

Contact MLA Marie Renaud at

Marie Renaud, MLA
1215 Legislature Annex
9718 - 107 Street
Edmonton, AB  T5K 1E4

Please send a copy of your letter to ADWA at

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