The parents of 12 Stoney Nation children with special needs fear they will be left scrambling for new therapy and treatment for their kids.
Every morning, the group of children is picked up and driven to Williams Consulting to work with a team of 10 professionals, including speech therapists and psychologists.
Andrea Williams, the facility’s owner, signed a two-year agreement with the federal government to fund the treatment of these children.
The funding falls under Jordan’s Principle, which is designed to prevent children’s needs from falling through bureaucratic cracks. It ensures that Indigenous children will have equal funding to government services.
Now, six months later, Williams has been informed her contract will be cancelled March 31, with the possibility for a three-month extension.
“These children are the highest needs children in that First Nation. And I don’t think health services had any idea how high needs they were,” she told APTN.
The Stoney Health Centre requested and has now been given funds to treat these 12 children with special needs.
Christopher Pegram said he doesn’t understand why he will have to take his child, Gavin, elsewhere for care.
“He looks forward to coming here,” he said. “As opposed to all of a sudden, there are going to be all these new faces. New people. Why fix what is not broken?”
Parents have been told they will have to book each practitioner individually to use their services.
Sonya House, a mother of two sons enrolled at Williams Consulting, said she’s happy with their care.
“My boys really improved. Big time,” she said. “And now that it is going to come to an end, I’m like what am I going to do now? Where are my boys going to get these services?”
Brandon Holloway is concerned that the Stoney Health Services does not have adequate space for playing, and does not believe his child will receive the same level of care he’s currently receiving. He believes this is the foundation of what Jordan’s principle is about.
“They have the building. They have these trained professionals coming in. They have said this over and over, but there is nothing,” he said. “No place for them to go and learn these things. These professionals they claim to have… we don’t see them.”
Williams says she has not been given a transition plan. No one from Stoney Health Services has spoken with her.
“I have never met their providers. I don’t believe they have the space. And I don’t believe they have the right to choose for these families. These families have made it clear that they want the services provided in a particular way. I believe the families have the choice to make that decision.”
APTN reached out to Stoney Health Services for comment, but was told CEO Aaron Khan is out of the country.
In an emailed statement, Health Canada said the contract is going to the First Nation – and the Stoney Health Centre is working to make the transition smooth for the children.