A variety of efforts are being made to support vulnerable and at-risk Albertans feeling the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Government is prioritizing support for those who need it most, including people with disabilities, people accessing income support programs, homeless and women’s shelters, and civil society organizations that support Albertans, including food banks.

“Our government is committed to slowing the spread of COVID-19 and protecting vulnerable Albertans. Those who rely on social services need our support more than ever before and we will continue working closely with community partners to address the needs of all who are at risk and help them get through this challenging time.”

Rajan Sawhney, Minister of Community and Social Services

Support is being provided to the disability community to help navigate this crisis. Programs such as Family Support for Children with Disabilities (FSCD), Persons with Developmental Disabilities (PDD) and Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH) are still available during the pandemic.

Government is working with disability service provider partners to provide personal protective equipment, help maintain staffing, and develop policies to allow for easier access to supports and help ensure the well-being of individuals and families. A reference guide on COVID-19 for people with disabilities has also been developed to provide information on how to stay safe and limit the spread of the virus. This guide is available online.

“COVID-19 is posing profound and immediate hardship for many Albertans with disabilities and their families. We are encouraged by the government's growing spirit of collaboration and new measures taken to address specific needs of disabled Albertans. Working together, we can continue to support those most in need now, and be proactive in addressing the post-COVID-19 recovery.”

Lyndon Parakin, vice-president, Autism Society Alberta

Alberta Supports contact centres remain open, with services accessible by phone or online. Monthly benefits continue to be provided to Albertans accessing AISH and Income Support during the pandemic. Government will be exempting a portion of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) as income for AISH and Income Support recipients.

“These are difficult times for all Albertans, including people with disabilities who have lost employment. I’m pleased the government took action to exempt a portion of CERB for Albertans receiving AISH to replace some of the income they’ve lost. This will help them deal with the challenges they’re facing.”

Margot Brunner-Campbell, executive director, Voice of Albertans with Disabilities

Homeless shelters and community organizations have received financial support to open 14 new shelter facilities to meet physical distancing requirements and are now focusing their efforts on re-housing to take people out of the shelter system. More than 400 people have been housed since the beginning of this crisis.

“We are focusing our efforts to support people without a fixed-address during this pandemic and empower them to move into their own homes. During this crisis, we have not lost sight of our housing efforts and our goal to end chronic homelessness. We appreciate the support of government during this time and will continue to work together to support our most vulnerable people.” 

Sandra Clarkson, executive director, Calgary Drop In Centre

Women’s emergency shelters are helping to protect women and children experiencing domestic violence by providing safe isolation in hotels, adjusting programming to meet physical distancing requirements and hiring additional staff so they can respond to increased crisis calls, while continuing to provide supports to women and children.

Government has received 850 applications for the $30 million in funding from charities, not-for-profits and civil society organizations from across the province. These applications are currently being reviewed and urgent requests are being prioritized to deliver the most effective support to vulnerable Albertans.

Government also recently provided $5 million to help food banks and charities provide Albertans with food during this crisis. This funding helps ensure safe food distribution to Alberta’s food banks and will assist with efforts to respond to COVID-19.

More information about government’s response to COVID-19 can be found at Alberta.ca/COVID19.

Quick facts

  • About 17 per cent of AISH and six per cent of Income Support recipients earn employment income, in addition to monthly financial benefits they receive from the provincial government.
  • CERB is for Canadians who have lost employment income due to COVID-19. Eligible Canadians can receive $500 a week for up to 16 weeks from the federal government.
  • 194 hotel rooms for people in shelters, who test positive for the virus, have been identified across the province, in addition to 200 spaces at the Edmonton EXPO Centre.
  • 27 grants have been provided to currently funded women’s shelters to support their COVID-19 response.
  • As of April 21, 850 applications for emergency funding for social services support have been received from charities, not-for-profits and civil society organizations across the province.
  • As of April 21, 49 applications for food bank funding have been received.