Help­ing the eco­nomic re­cov­ery reach all Al­ber­tans

The McLeod River Post - - Family, Farm & Garden - Spe­cial to The Post

The prov­ince is work­ing to en­sure all Al­ber­tans can ben­e­fit from the eco­nomic re­cov­ery by en­sur­ing peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties or low in­come Al­ber­tans have sta­ble, pre­dictable sup­ports.

If passed, An Act to Com­bat Poverty and Fight for Al­ber­tans with Dis­abil­i­ties would in­dex so­cial ben­e­fits like As­sured In­come for the Se­verely Hand­i­capped (AISH) with inflation. It would also rec­og­nize in­creases to the cost of liv­ing by pro­vid­ing a one-time in­crease to AISH and In­come Sup­port.

“An eco­nomic re­cov­ery that doesn’t reach ev­ery kitchen ta­ble is no re­cov­ery at all. We are com­mit­ted to help­ing make life bet­ter for all Al­ber­tans and this bill would make life more af­ford­able for our most vul­ner­a­ble cit­i­zens, and help en­sure ev­ery­one has the chance to suc­ceed and live with dig­nity.”

Rachel Not­ley, Premier

The leg­is­la­tion would mark the first in­crease to AISH ben­e­fits since 2012. In fu­ture years, ben­e­fit rates for fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance pro­grams, in­clud­ing AISH, Learn­ers Ben­e­fits and Bar­ri­ers to Full Em­ploy­ment sup­ports, would be con­nected to the Con­sumer Price In­dex.

“This leg­is­la­tion would pro­vide greater pro­tec­tion and pre­dictabil­ity for vul­ner­a­ble Al­ber­tans who rely on these ben­e­fits. For too long, Al­ber­tans with dis­abil­i­ties have strug­gled to pay rent and put food on the ta­ble. This leg­is­la­tion would not only pro­vide bet­ter sup­ports to­day, but en­sure peo­ple on AISH and low-in­come Al­ber­tans won’t need to fight to afford the ba­sics to­mor­row.”

Ir­fan Sabir, Min­is­ter of Com­mu­nity and So­cial Ser­vices

Nearly 250,000 Al­ber­tans re­ceive sup­port through AISH, In­come Sup­port or Se­niors Ben­e­fits. If passed, the leg­is­la­tion would make Al­berta one of only four ju­ris­dic­tions that in­dexes dis­abil­ity and in­come sup­port ben­e­fits, and one of only two that in­dexes se­niors ben­e­fits with inflation.

“I ac­quired my dis­abil­ity 14 years ago and a lot has changed in 14 years. This cost-of-liv­ing in­crease means the govern­ment rec­og­nizes the AISH pro­gram needs to change with the times. It will take away the des­per­a­tion of man­ag­ing my fi­nances in the face of yearly inflation.”

Ian Young, AISH client, writer and ad­vo­cate

To en­sure Al­ber­tans with dis­abil­i­ties can plan for the fu­ture with­out erod­ing their sav­ings, the leg­is­la­tion would also in­crease sav­ings lim­its to match gen­eral el­i­gi­bil­ity cri­te­ria for the AISH child al­lowance ($100,000 in­stead of $3,000), and the AISH sup­ple­men­tary per­sonal ben­e­fits from $3,000 to $5,000.

“We are pleased with the govern­ment’s de­ci­sion to in­crease AISH and the in­come pro­grams and, most im­por­tantly, to in­dex them. Poverty isn’t just about money, but it is al­ways about money. These ac­tions will make a big dif­fer­ence in the lives of our most vul­ner­a­ble Al­ber­tans.”

Franco Savoia, Vi­brant Com­mu­ni­ties Cal­gary

The leg­is­la­tion comes af­ter govern­ment’s on­go­ing dis­cus­sions be­tween the dis­abil­ity and poverty re­duc­tion com­mu­ni­ties.

“In­dex­ing these vi­tal pro­grams will reach in­di­vid­u­als and fam­i­lies that are in the great­est need and will en­hance Al­berta’s con­tin­u­ing ini­tia­tives to pre­vent poverty. End Poverty Ed­mon­ton has ad­vo­cated for these changes and we would like to ap­plaud this govern­ment for work­ing to en­sure all Al­ber­tans can afford their daily costs into the fu­ture.”

Michael Phair, End Poverty Ed­mon­ton

“An in­crease to so­cial as­sis­tance ben­e­fits will give women the abil­ity to in­de­pen­dently meet their most ba­sic needs. Or­ga­ni­za­tions like YW Cal­gary can of­fer pro­grams to sup­port women and their fam­i­lies with coun­selling or hous­ing or em­ploy­ment sup­ports, but if they can’t buy tooth­paste or choose their own food, they can’t re­ally move for­ward. These long over­due in­creases to ben­e­fits will have a di­rect im­pact on women’s lives and en­able them to think about their fu­tures and how they can con­trib­ute to com­mu­nity.”

Els­beth Mehrer, YWCA Cal­gary

“We be­lieve that with­out ad­e­quate in­come peo­ple can’t get by, and with­out as­sets peo­ple can’t get ahead. By in­dex­ing crit­i­cal ben­e­fits to the cost of liv­ing and rais­ing the liq­uid as­set lim­its for Al­ber­tans to ac­cess In­come Sup­port, the provin­cial govern­ment will re­duce the fi­nan­cial stress for thou­sands of Al­ber­tans and cre­ate the op­por­tu­nity for these in­di­vid­u­als and fam­i­lies to exit the in­come sup­port sys­tem when pos­si­ble and move for­ward in their lives.” Jeff Loomis, Mo­men­tum

The leg­is­la­tion is a key com­po­nent of Al­berta’s Ac­tion on Poverty plan, which in­cludes ac­tions across govern­ment to make life more af­ford­able, sup­port well­ness and so­cial in­clu­sion, en­hance skills and em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties and in­vest in af­ford­able hous­ing and home­less sup­ports.

Quick facts

• If passed, the leg­is­la­tion would come into ef­fect on Jan. 1, 2019.

• Que­bec, Yukon and Man­i­toba in­dex dis­abil­ity and in­come sup­port ben­e­fit rates with inflation.

• Yukon is the only other Cana­dian ju­ris­dic­tion that in­dexes their se­niors’ ben­e­fits with inflation.

• If passed, the govern­ment will in­vest ap­prox­i­mately $46 mil­lion in 2018-19 and $194 mil­lion in 201920 to sup­port the leg­is­la­tion.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.