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'Written off': Sask. woman says her brother, who had Down syndrome, fell through the cracks


Tara Jo Kadlec has been advocating for better care for her brother Cory for years.

He was 41-years-old when he died last month, and she thinks he was failed by his care providers at the end of his life because of what she describes as huge systemic problems in Saskatchewan health care.

“Because he had the dementia diagnosis; that he was getting written off, ‘oh he has dementia, just dementia,’ but that’s not really true because he had pneumonia,” Kadlec told CTV News.

These conditions were all part of the complex health needs Cory faced alongside having Down syndrome, and that dementia diagnosis since 2022. He also had a stroke in 2020.

Kadlec says Cory’s death was just the last in a string of issues they faced with the health care system in Saskatchewan.

“Everybody deserves dignity and deserves to be treated fairly, whether it’s the beginning of your life or the end,” she says.

Cory was shuffled around to care homes that didn’t adequately treat his multitude of physical and mental needs, and after a 10-month stay at Royal University Hospital, Kadlec took over care of her brother in Saskatoon. She had to leave her home in Calgary, where she was living with her sister, and quit working for almost two years to manage Cory’s care.

On Monday at the legislature, provincial NDP critic for social services Meara Conway met with Kadlec and other families who are calling for better care for people with intellectual disabilities.

NDP social services critic Meara Conway met with Tara Jo Kadlec about the care her brother received at the end of his life. (Courtesy: Tara Jo Kadlec)

“The case of Cory is very heartbreaking, but unfortunately it does encapsulate many of the challenges in the sector. The systemic issues that I’ve heard about — it’s almost like Cory went through all of it,” Conway told CTV News.

Families also met with the social services minister Gene Makowsky, who Kadlec says knew very little about Cory’s case — something that surprised her.

Health minister Everett Hindley admits the issues Cory faced need to be addressed in a meaningful way, and says they’re currently setting up meetings with families involved.

“I’ve asked them to bring some ideas to us, too. Is there some ideas or models in other provinces that we can implement in Saskatchewan to help to provide care in those instances?”

Cory Kadlec - (Courtesy: Tara Jo Kadlec)

Kadlec appreciates the effort, and while it’s too late for her brother — she’s going to keep up the fight for change.

“The reason we did this in the first place was to fight for Cory and his friends.”

She’s determined to keep the valuable things her brother taught her during his life close at hand while she embarks on the journey.

“The impact my brother made in this life; I’ll never be the same person. I am the person I am today with compassion, empathy, kindness at a high level because of him.” Top Stories

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