Funding Skeptic: Alberta’s 42 Million Support Services Cut
42 million big ones, that’s the amount that the Alberta government is cutting from support programs… and investing a whopping 2 million in employment. Underwhelmed? Me too.
I applaud creating focused funding that directly supports people towards gainful employment. Bravo! That’s a step in the right direction. Jobs create equality, bring people into the community, foster independence, and inclusion; all the good stuff that people deserve and are getting too little of.
According to government Associate Minister of Services for Persons with Disabilities, Frank Oberle; “We spent just short of $100 million on that program last year and we get some of our lowest outcome scores on social inclusion…We think that’s indicative that’s money not very well spent. We want to focus more on inclusive outcomes, including employment.” (cbc.ca)
I have to agree that something needs to change but what is happening to all the people currently receiving supports? What’s the transition going to look like? Are there alternative supports for families that require respite? What about the jobs those support services create? What measures are being taken to prevent isolation and community exclusion if a person has trouble finding employment?
The answers are slow in coming.
“ ‘If I lose [these supports], my quality of life is not even a 50 per cent reduction, that is optimistic. It’s a 99 per cent reduction on my quality of life,’ said Ryan Gerstenbuhler, a Lethbridge resident who relies on the program for wheelchair accessible transportation.” (globalnews.ca)
Residents of Lethbridge are actively protesting the decision. Advocates, employees, people supported, and concerned citizens joined the Rally for Reason on April 24th covered by Global.
I support people finding employment. I do worry about people’s loss of access to recreational and volunteer activities. The more choices a person has, the more empowered they are.
Hopefully great things will come from Alberta’s renewed focus on employment but the funding figures are keeping me skeptical for now.
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