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Albertans have always been committed to care for the most vulnerable among us. We also understand the fundamental importance of personal responsibility, and that individuals, families and communities are the first and most important line of defense against crime, poverty and most other societal ills. Government can and should also play a supporting role by empowering people and charitable organizations to succeed, incenting charitable giving and volunteerism, and ensuring those who fall through the cracks are cared for in a compassionate and responsible manner.
The PC Government has clearly fallen into the trap of believing that a tightly controlled and centralized government bureaucracy is best suited to care for those in need. This has led to expensive and archaic assessment regimes, erratic funding for community support organizations and mental health facilities, and millions wasted on excessive administration.
In addition, many Albertans receiving social supports are able and would appreciate the opportunity to work part time in order to supplement their government income. Unfortunately, there is currently a disincentive to do so as support is often clawed back in proportion to the modest earnings or additional training such individuals achieve. Government should be providing incentives for those who are able to work or receive training – our current benefits regime often does the opposite.
Get it Right
Albertans deserve better. A Wildrose Government would implement the following plan to responsibly care for those in need:
- Decentralize and streamline assessment procedures to ensure more support funding is flowing directly to the individuals, families and community organizations who need it, rather than to multiple large government bureaucracies.
- Phase out regional PDD boards and return decision-making authority to community organizations and families by developing a formula that has funding follow the individual primarily to the organization or agency caring for them.
- Support non-profit organizations and agencies with an ongoing track record of strong performance with predictable yearly funding increases in line with inflation and other growth pressures.
- Mandate all organizations and agencies receiving government funding for dealing with homelessness provide measureable and quantifiable objectives and are held accountable for achieving them.
- Ensure AISH recipients and other vulnerable Albertans receiving government support are given stable yearly funding increases in line with the escalating costs of living.
- Introduce a ‘volunteerism tax credit’ as an optional tool for volunteer organizations to use to attract and reward those who donate their time to charitable causes, while increasing the tax credit for charitable donations to be at least or more generous than the tax credit given for political contributions.
- Make it more financially attractive for individuals receiving government assistance who are physically and psychologically able, to supplement their incomes by working or upgrading their skills without having their benefits clawed back.
- Guarantee that decisions regarding care, housing and treatment for individuals in need (especially the mentally ill and persons with developmental disabilities) is based on the needs of patients, not government budgets.
- Carry out regular and random audits of all licensed group homes as well as senior assisted living and long term care facilities, and publicly post any recorded infractions online.
- Ensure that individuals with disabilities are properly transitioned between childhood, adulthood and their senior years without temporarily or permanently losing access to the programs and funding necessary to their continued development.