Stable Funding Seniors, Disability Programs - but for how long?
April 14, 2016 - Legislative Assembly - Edmonton
While funding is being described as "stable", there are no increases in the budgets that affect seniors or people with disabilities during the 2016-2017 fiscal period in Alberta.
This hardly a surprise: most expected much worse from the 2016 budget of the government Premier Rachel Notely. After all, the message from Finance Minister Joe Ceci in his Budget Speech was that "revenues to government have fallen off a cliff".
While unchanged, the budget still provides significant support in key areas (through deficit financing, of course). Supports for persons with disabilities are funded to the tune of $1.1 billion in this fiscal year. That funding includes programs for developmental disability, family support for children with disabilities, and fetal alcohol spectrum disorder initiatives.
The 2016 budget also provides $357 million for the Alberta Seniors Benefit, supporting about 150,000 low income seniors. An addition $230 million is allocated for programs delivered by the Alberta Social Housing Corporation, with $94 million for seniors housing and $67 million for the rental assistance program.
The only question is - how much longer will these programs remain funded at current levels? With the government borrowing just to make immediate ends meet (eg. Salaries), the economic outlook in Alberta is bleak indeed.
For more information, refer to the Government of Alberta's official budget documents found at: www.alberta.ca/Budget.cfm.
October 27, 2015 - Legislative Assembly - Edmonton
The first NDP Government in Alberta's history tabled its first provincial budget today.
With an estimated $6.1 billion deficit for 2015 -2016, Finance Minister Joe Ceci says the Province intends to begin borrowing for the first time in 20 years, a measure that will finance immediate day-to-day spending.
Not surprisingly, taxes and levies will increase. The price of a carton of cigarettes, for example, will increase by $5.00 while cases of beer wil increase by 24 cents per bottle.
Salary freezes, hiring restraints, spending caps and public sector structural reviews also feature prominently in this Budget.
Some areas of increase include:
- support for children in care, through the Family and Community Support Services program;
- new annual funding of $15 million to support women's shelters;
- an enhancement to the Alberta Family Employment Tax Credit;
- a new Alberta Child Benefit, targeted to lower and middle income families;
- an additional $120 million over two years, starting in 2016, for new long-term care spaces, and $90 million to expand public home care; and
- a two-year job incentive program to provide private sector and non-profit sector employers a job grant of $5,000 for each new job they create.
This budget, the first since the 2015 provincial election, is just a taste of how the newly-elected NDP administration of premier Rachel Notley will govern. A new budget will be tabled in the spring of 2016.
For more information and official Budget document, visit: http://alberta.ca/budget/
Oil's Continued Impact
March 26, 2015 - Legislative Assembly - Edmonton
Albertans have joined the ranks of most other Canadians in the taxes and fees they pay. An array of new taxes, fees and levies will soon impact all Albertans, while those in the most vulnerable populations, such as those with disabilities, see targeted spending maintained or slightly increased.
Spending cuts coupled with restructuring initiatives are pronounced. Health care spending, for example, is reduced by nearly 1%. The Human Services budget increases by $72 million, accompanied by restructuring.
The details of the 2015-2016 budget of Premier Jim Prentice echoo the warnings that many across the country have heard for months.
Finance Minister Robin Campbell's budget maintains spending in several areas.
- Funding for Alberta's monthly AISH benefit will be maintained.
- More than $1 billion will support persons with disabilities, including persons with developmental disabilities and families of children with disabilities.
Seniors will continue to receive the same monthly income supplement through the Seniors Benefit. The Home Repair Loan program continues, a measure that helps seniors cover the costs of home repairs and modifications.
But significant public service cuts form a key part of the restructuring.
Although Alberta remains Canada's only province without a provincial sales tax, this is not the economy that it once was. Program and service contraction in the public sector are expected to constitute the course of governance for the foreseeable future.
For more information, refer to the Government of Alberta's official budget documents found at: www.alberta.ca/budget.cfm.
No New Taxes; Slight Increase for Seniors and Disabled
March 6, 2014 - Legislative Assembly - Edmonton
Alberta Finance Minister, Doug Horner, delivered his government's budget this afternoon, with most of the reaction ranging from pleasant to skeptical. The government of premier Allison Redford intends to put the Province further into debt, despite a healthy surplus of roughly $2.6 billion on the books.
The good news for Albertans; no new taxes. And while maintenance spending constitutes the primary theme of this budget, measures aimed at seniors and people with disabilities actually receive spending increases.
Enhanced home care and rehabilitation services will be increased by $12 million.
The Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped Program has a $1.1 billion commitment.
Overall, various support services for Albertans with disabilities will be increased by approximately $967 million.
Alberta's Employment First program is maintained. This program provides employment supports to people with disabilities .
The Alberta Seniors Benefit sees a 6.2% increase, roughly $21 million more. And $6 million is added to programs that provide and address special assistance needs to low income seniors, programs such as home repairs.
The Health portfolio receives a $600 million increase.
Like most government budgets this year, Alberta's fiscal plan is a maintenance budget, with few new or major announcements.
For more information, refer to the Government of Alberta'[s official budget documents found at: www.alberta.ca/Budget.cfm.
Alberta Budget increases supports for vulnerable Albertans
March 7, 2013
Legislative Assembly – Edmonton
Alberta Premier, Alison Redford, describes the Province’s 2013 budget as "living within our means". Translation: a few cuts here and there; modest increases in spending here and there.
No new taxes were introduced in this year's budget, and neither were any major new program announcements in the human and social services fields.
However, the few increases in spending for 2013 are found in the Human Services portfolio, with disability programs as one of the main beneficiaries.
The Province in February released its Social Policy Framework, the plan that considers Alberta's emerging challenges and priorities (including the Province's population increase of roughly 100,000 people per year) and maps out a coherent approach to human, health and social service delivery.
The Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped program receives a 4.4% increase, while developmental disabilities receives a $5.5 million increase. Family support for children with disabilities increases by $6 million. Contracted agencies of the Province get a $67.7 million increase to support salary increases as well as for recruitment purposes.
Employment training, income supports and health benefits for unemployed Albertans drops from $981 to $883 million. This move helps cover the increases in human service spending, and reflects the job boom in the Province.
Health spending increases by 3%. The Alberta Seniors Benefit program increases by $358 million. And a new Seniors Property Tax Deferral Program will be implemented for senior who own homes to be able to defer taxes until they sell their homes.Pharma Care, a new program, will commence in 2014.
As with most Provinces, Alberta more than anything is finding ways to spend smarter, and attracting and maintaining a robust non-for-profit sector is key to this rationale. Organizations like March of Dimes should see potential over the next several years.
For more information about Alberta's Social Policy Framework, visit: www.socialpolicy.alberta.ca.
Note: March of Dimes' submission to this consultation in 2012 focused on the principles and recommendations of our Toronto Declaration.
Official government information about the 2013 Alberta budget may be found at www.budget2013.alberta.ca.
Investing in People (pre-election style)
Legislative Assembly- Edmonton
February 9, 2012
Minister of Finance, Ron Liepert, delivered the final budget of Premier Alison Redford’s PC government today before heading to the polls in the coming months.
Increases to supports for families, Albertans with disabilities, seniors and vulnerable Albertans comprised the thematic emphasis in the 2012 budget, described by the Premier's office as "Investing in People".
Across the health care system we see the following highlights:
- 7.9% increase in operating funding for Health and Wellness programs, up to $15.9 billion.
- 6% increase to Alberta Health Services’ base operating funding to $10.2 billion.
- $125 billion in each of the next three years to support strategic health investments, including family care clinics, additional addictions and mental health services, home care, and enhanced rehabilitation programs.
The Alberta benefit and support system sees the following enhancements:
- The maximum monthly income benefit rises by $400, effective April 1, for clients of the Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped program, and monthly income exemptions will double.
- Income support rates increase by an average of 5%, the first rate increase since 2008.
- Child care subsidy programs are enhanced to include fully subsidy for families with a household income of $50,000 or less.
- The Alberta Seniors Benefit program receives a 6.6% increase to $351 million.
- Contracted agency employees providing services to Albertans with developmental disabilities, as well as vulnerable children, youth and families, receive increases.
- Child intervention programs get a 12.3% funding increase due to higher caseloads, increased case complexity and wages for agency staff.
Municipalities delivering services will see accompanying increases as well.
- $273 million in direct operating support for Family and Community Support Services, and other related services.
- $110 million to provide outreach support services as well as housing for homelessness, including upwards of 3,100 spaces in emergency and transitional shelters.
- $300 million for social and affordable housing programs.
- $25 million in each of the next three years for the Affordable Supportive Living Initiative for seniors’ housing, providing enhanced home care and rehabilitation, allowing seniors to stay in their homes longer and avoid premature or unnecessary admissions to continuing care facilities and hospitals.
This budget, a pre-election plan, projects record-high revenue (through the Province’s energy supplies), contains record-high spending, and imposes no new taxes. A little something for everyone, as it were. If this budget appeals to voters in the upcoming election, as most analysts predict it will, a re-election of the Progressive Conservatives to government would represent the 12th consecutive electoral victory for the Party.
While many government MLAs insist this budget is not a "pre-election carrot", rumours around the Legislature suggest that the campaign bus for Premier Redford will be unveiled within a few days.
For more official information about the Alberta 2012 budget, visit: