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Alberta Tory leadership candidate Ric McIver outlines social policy

Former Calgary mayoral candidate Ric McIver casts his ballot in the City of Calgary municipal election in Calgary, Monday, Oct. 18, 2010. Mr. McIver is running for leader of the Alberta Progressive Conservatives. He outlined his social policy at the Michener Centre on Thursday.

Jeff McIntosh/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Alberta Tory leadership candidate Ric McIver says a home for people with mental and physical disabilities will not be closed if he becomes premier, CKGY reports.

McIver says he would keep a promise the government originally made to keep the Michener Centre in Red Deer open for current residents, but not accept anyone new.

The province announced last year that it was closing most of the facility and moving residents into the community.

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The decision by former premier Alison Redford's government has drawn a lot of criticism and prompted a judicial review.

McIver also says he would ensure legal aid for those who are on the province's income support program, known as AISH, because many of them currently don't qualify.

Progressive Conservative party members vote for a new leader next month.

McIver, who made his social policy announcements at Michener Centre on Thursday, said he recently toured the facility and met with residents.

"They certainly seem to be settled and comfortable where they are, and I don't think that government should unnecessarily take them out of their comfort and the care that they have known, in many cases, their whole life," he said.

"Until I took the time to come down and have a look for myself, I frankly wasn't fully enough aware of the circumstances and the residents."

Dianne Esslinger's brother Larry, who is 52, has been living at Michener Centre since he was a toddler.

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"Some people have lived her for five, six, seven, even eight decades, so to move them at this point in their life doesn't seem to make a lot of sense," she said.

A judicial review of the government's plan to move residents is to be held in November.

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