EndPovertyEdmonton and partners, including the Edmonton Social Planning Council, Edmonton Community Foundation, and the Edmonton Community Development Company, called on the provincial government to raise the rates for social assistance programs this week.
Following letters sent from organizations across the province asking for increases to programs like Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped, the Alberta Seniors Benefit and Income Support, EndPovertyEdmonton
sent out a joint media release.
In Alberta, over 57,000 households access Income Support. The current income support core benefits provide an income that is more than 50% below the poverty line. AISH recipients fare better, but are also still below the poverty line. The result of this situation is thousands of Albertans struggling to make ends meet and making hard choices like paying rent or buying food.
Rates for these programs haven’t been raised since 2012, and they are not currently tied to inflation. EndPovertyEdmonton and others would like that to change.
“We have a municipal initiative to end poverty and we recently learned details about a federal strategy aimed at reducing poverty. We’d love to see our provincial government increase their commitment to poverty reduction by working on Income Support and AISH. Changes to those programs – tied to inflation – will help ensure that our least vulnerable don’t continue to fall further behind. This is the kind of thing that Albertans and EndPovertyEdmonton support. We all deserve a fair chance for a decent life. We know that poverty costs Albertans billions of dollars a year. If we raise the rates for social assistance benefits, we’ll see real improvements in food insecurity, homelessness and cost savings in healthcare and other areas. ” — Michael Phair, former City Councillor and EndPovertyEdmonton SRT Co-Chair “The benefits for all Albertans of raising social assistance programs’ rates cannot be understated. The Edmonton Community Foundation sees bringing people out of poverty as goal 1 to building better communities for all of us. ” — Martin Garber-Conrad, CEO Edmonton Community Foundation “Without an adequate income, people become trapped in poverty and live with small hope of a better future. The Edmonton CDC encourages the Government of Alberta to consider how income security benefits can increase and be indexed to the cost of living. ” — Mark Holmgren, Executive Director Edmonton Community Development Company. “We’ve been noting for many years now that the data all tells us the same thing, social assistance benefits like the Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped and Income Support leave people living below the poverty line. All Albertans have the right to be able to access good quality food, live in suitable housing and provide for themselves and their families. Raising the rates and tying them to inflation moves vulnerable Albertans towards a life of dignity. ” — Susan Morrissey, Executive Director Edmonton Social Planning Council “While climbing the hill of economic recovery, we need our governments to be investing in people in ways that optimize the highest economic and social benefits. By making sure Albertans can cover the basics, they’re prevented from falling further behind. That not only saves money, but contributes to better mental and physical health, allowing people to reach their potential and better participate in and contribute to their community. ” — Jocelyn Johnson, Executive Advisor for City Councillor Ward 4
“The Centre to End All Sexual Exploitation (CEASE) has long supported the need to raise the rates for social assistance programs. Far too many singles and mothers on social assistance have been forced to trade sex services to meet basic needs. CEASE supports individuals who are healing their lives after years of sexual violence and stigma. Sometimes this means they are not ready to maintain full-time employment. Sometimes fleeing an abusive situation means they need to be on social assistance for a while. With market rents ranging from $600 - $1200 and wait time for subsidized housing a year or more, clearly social assistance rates are inadequate. At the minimum, rates should be indexed to inflation. Raising the rates will decrease the terrible burden of poverty and the desperation of social inequality. Raising the rates will give Albertans in tough situations a chance to breathe and imagine an improved future for themselves and their families as they work, if they are able, towards employment or further education.” ” — Kate Quinn, Executive Director CEASE