Funding Sources for Albertans with Care Needs
We work for many people and families who require extensive care, and part of what is claimed in a lawsuit for our clients is the cost of the care they require. However, lawsuits take time, especially for catastrophic injuries where significant money is sought. In the interim, our clients cannot go without the care they need. Even though many of our clients receive support from social workers in hospital after their injuries, we encounter many clients who are unfamiliar with the government funded programs that support their care when they cannot afford it. While we do not profess to be experts in this area, through our experience working for clients with catastrophic injuries, we have learned about the various programs available to Albertans who require care that is more extensive than what they can afford.
Family Supports for Children with Disabilities
Family Supports for Children with Disabilities (FSCD) is a government-run program that provides services such as:
- Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Speech & Language Pathology (“Specialized Services”) for children with severe needs in these areas;
- Respite care for children with high needs so their families can take time for themselves and maintain their capacity and ability to care for them;
- Training for families to be better equipped to care for their children with high needs due to their disabilities.
FSCD covers to age 18. More information about the application process for FSCD can be found here.
Persons with Developmental Disabilities
Persons with Developmental Disabilities (PDD) is a government-funded program for adults who require care as a result of a developmental disability. PDD covers a certain amount attendant care for those who qualify. There is a rigorous application process but the coverage can be extensive for high needs individuals. In determining the appropriate amount of funding, there is an expectation that families contribute to the care of the person with the developmental disability to some extent. Due to the rigorous application process, it is recommended that clients begin the process when the child is 16 years old. More information about PDD can be found here.
Alberta Aids to Daily Living
The Alberta Aids to Daily Living program (AADL) is a government-funded program for all ages that currently provides funding for items like catheters, incontinence supplies, and wheelchairs. There is a “deductible” for most clients, unless the client is impecunious. There is also a maximum amount of coverage per year. Funding levels have changed over the years. More details can be found here.
The Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped Program (AISH) is a program that clients over the age of 18 can access if their disabilities prevent them from working. There is both an income replacement component and a care funding component. AISH covers care items such as:
- Physical Therapy;
- Some medical supplies not available through the AADL program or other sources.
More information about the AISH program can be found here.
Cerebral Palsy Association
Many of our clients have cerebral palsy, and Weir Bowen LLP is a proud supporter of the Cerebral Palsy Association in Alberta (CPAA). While it is not a government funded program, the CPAA has a funding program for care needs, such as a new wheelchair, or other items that are not easily funded elsewhere, such as camps specializing in differently abled children. Applications can be made here.
Lawsuits and Government Programs
When our clients require care, one aspect of the damages we seek is the cost of that care – both what has been provided in the past, and what will be required in the future. Sometimes defendants suggest that the care that is currently funded by government should be deducted from future care claims, on the basis that it is possible that our client may not actually incur that cost because the government would cover it. Courts have commented that taxpayers should not be expected to cover the costs that result from a negligent person’s conduct – the full extent of the damage caused by the negligent person should be borne only by the negligent person. We also vigorously fight the proposition of deducting government funding because it is subject to budgetary considerations and funding programs often change as time goes on. Often our clients are children and their care will need to be covered for decades and decades. It would be unjust to reduce the compensation for future care needs based on government funding that is not guaranteed – to do otherwise would risk the innocent victim being left without the proper funding for the care they require as a result of the defendant’s conduct. The most recent court decisions on this issue in Alberta have agreed with this principle and have not reduced future cost of care verdicts by the amount currently funded by government programs.
If you or someone in your family has suffered injuries as a result of somebody else’s negligence, a Weir Bowen lawyer would be happy to answer any questions that you have.
By: Shelagh McGregor