Michener Centre plea receives no support from Ponoka town council

As Michener Centre’s closing dates comes closer, the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) opposes the decision.

As Michener Centre’s closing dates comes closer, the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) opposes the decision.

Its members have been seeking support of their opposition from neighbouring communities and Ponoka was one.

“It’s a political decision,” explained CAO Brad Watson.

Jason Heistad, an AUPE vice-president, told council May 28 there are no plans to deal with residents after the closure of the Michener Centre.

But Watson disagrees. He has seen documentation dealing with the closure and how it will be handled.

Mayor Larry Henkelman was reminded of the time the Centennial Centre for Mental Health and Brain Injury was governed by its own board. There was a request from one member to move the centre to Edmonton. There became a possibility Ponoka would lose the centre but the community and council at the time campaigned to keep the building.

Coun. Rick Bonnett does not remember seeing any support from neighbouring towns.

“I’d have to say this is outside of our realm of what’s happening in our community,” he added.

Although the town did not campaign for support from other areas there was still a challenge to keep the building.

“They were trying to attract the facility out of the Town of Ponoka,” added Mayor Larry Henkelman.

Strong support from MLA Halvar Johnson was provided and the building stayed.

He also feels some of these buildings that provide a certain level of service but who have vacancies may be better off closed because of the costs to taxpayers. Henkelman believes patients will still see care. “They’re still going to be looked after.”

Watson suggests organizers in Alberta Health Services did not provide their plan, which started in 2003, in a sufficient manner to the Province of Alberta. “They’ve acknowledged that.”

The request was defeated 4-3.

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