Building Alberta: Budget 2013 increases supports for vulnerable Albertans
Operational funding for the Ministry of Human Services will be nearly $4.3 billion in 2013-14. Supports for persons with disabilities, child care, child intervention, family support for children with disabilities, homelessness and the Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH) program will all see slight increases.
These increases will be offset by reductions for employment training and income supports. Caseloads for these programs are expected to decline as Alberta’s economy and job prospects continue to improve.
“This significant investment in Human Services will continue to drive transformational change in how we can best serve Albertans in the future as society changes around us,” said Human Services Minister Dave Hancock. “We have a responsibility to work with our partners to examine how we deliver services and to ensure we are using our budget as effectively as possible to get the best results for Albertans.”
“Alberta’s Social Policy Framework, released on February 28, will guide program alignment and inform priority-setting to achieve better outcomes for children, adults with disabilities, families and communities,” added Hancock.
Highlights of 2013 Human Services budget:
- AISH benefits are maintained, with a 4.4-per-cent increase in program funding to address caseload growth.
- The Persons with Developmental Disabilities (PDD) program will receive a $5.5-million increase as part of a transition to a new service delivery system. Work will continue with families and community partners on a funding model based on assessed needs that achieves positive outcomes.
- Child Intervention will see an increase of nearly $16 million, including a $7 million increase for foster care support that will fund more than 5,400 foster child placements.
- Child care subsidies for lower-income families will be maintained with a $6.7 million increase, as will family support for children with disabilities with a $6 million increase reflecting caseload growth.
- Funding for homelessness support is $111 million, an increase of $1.2 million, which will help house about 1,800 homeless Albertans this year, and fund more than 3,200 spaces in emergency and transition shelters.
- Initiatives for early intervention and fetal alcohol spectrum disorder will receive $89 million.
- Budget 2013 provides an additional $67.7 million in ongoing funding to contracted agencies to attract and retain qualified staff. As part of this strategy, funding will be provided to support salary increases for contracted agency workers.
- Human Services also anticipates saving through the use of generic drugs related to the health benefits portion of income supports and the AISH program.
The combined budget for employment training, income supports and health benefits for unemployed and underemployed Albertans will drop to $883 million from $981 million, reflecting Alberta’s position as a leader in Canada in economic growth, job creation and employment. Access to support for long-term career counseling to help meet future labour market needs will continue to be offered.
The Student Temporary Employment Program (STEP), which received approximately $7 million in Budget 2012, has been suspended.
“We recognize the need to strengthen the ability of the not-for-profit sector to attract and grow a skilled and resilient workforce,” said Hancock. “We will also continue to connect with young Albertans to support long-term career opportunities and sustainable employment. This includes providing career and employment services at the 53 Alberta Works offices throughout the province.”
Our government was elected to keep building Alberta, to live within its means and to fight to open new markets for Alberta’s resources. We will continue to deliver the responsible change Albertans voted for.
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