The ESPC is a member of the Edmonton Coalition on Housing and Homelessness (ECOHH). ECOHH sent out a three question survey related to housing security to each political party competing in the 2012 Alberta election. So far, the Progressive Conservatives (PC), the New Democratic Party (NDP), and the Alberta Party responded to ECOHH's questions. Below are their respective answers.
1. What would your party do to ensure the construction of more affordable housing?
PC. The PC party is fully committed to
ensuring that all qualifying low-income households are able to receive
the rent supplement. Our party has invested $71.1 million in the Rent
Supplement Program, a program that will support approximately 12,000
households every month. This funding will remain constant for the next
As part of budget 2012, we also increased the Assured Income for the
Severely Handicapped (AISH) program budget by 34%, or $271 million, for a
total of $1.056 billion. This funding will increase the maximum monthly
benefit for AISH clients by $400, from $1,188 to $1,588. This became
effective on April 1, 2012.
The AISH budget also provides funding to double the monthly employment
income exemption thresholds from $400 to $800 for single clients and
from $975 to $1,950 for families. Increasing the AISH programï¿½s
employment income exemption thresholds will allow AISH clients to keep
more of their employment earnings each month.
The AISH program will provide financial and health-related assistance to
over 44,500 adult Albertans with a permanent disability that
substantially limits their ability to earn a living. The number of
Albertans receiving AISH is expected to increase to 46,000 for Budget
NDP. The Alberta NDP is concerned that for
nearly 20 years the province has failed to invest adequately in
lowï¿½income and social housing as the need has grown and existing stock
has deteriorated or been lost. The NDP platform calls for small
increases in income taxes for the wealthiest 1.6% of individuals and to
corporate taxes, as well as an increase in the royalties paid for
bitumen extraction. This would result in a significant increase in
available revenue that would support a reinvestment in housing. The
first step needs to be the development of a comprehensive housing plan
developed through a substantial consultation process with all
stakeholders that considers all aspects of this issue including
shelters, the range of special needs housing, variations of supported
housing, low-income rental housing, and near-market housing for
purchase. This will enable planning for both capital investments over a
multi-year period and for the funding needs to support associated
services. This comprehensive housing plan should be incorporated as an
aspect of a full poverty elimination strategy. With waiting lists for
low-income rental housing too long to offer people any hope of access
and variations of homelessness still afflicting thousands of Albertans
this is urgent work and will have longer term benefits for the whole
province as the costs of having people homeless or in overly expensive
or inadequate housing are reduced.
2. What will you party do to ensure that all qualifying low income households are able to receive rent supplements?
PC. Over the next three years, we will be
investing $300 million for housing programs, including social housing,
affordable housing and our Homelessness Prevention Initiative. $40
million will be invested for new capital projects to improve the supply
of affordable housing across the province to support those Albertans
most in need. We recognize there is a continuing demand for support and
we are committed to helping lower-income Albertans have a safe and
affordable place to call home.
Our target was to help create 11,000 affordable housing units by 2012;
however, we exceeded that by building 12,000 units. There are 4,000
units available for immediate occupancy and more than 8,000 will come on
stream in communities across Alberta in the coming years.
It is important now to let the construction catch up to the investment.
We are now re-evaluating, refocusing and planning for the future. In
addition, another 4,000 units were added to the supply from commitments
made before the Affordable Housing Taskforce. When all is said and done,
and built, there will be more than 16,000 homes to help Albertans most
We will also continue our five-year $260 million investment to repair,
renovate or replace existing housing units in communities throughout the
This means more affordable homes for lower-income families, seniors and
individuals, including those most vulnerable, with special needs or
struggling with homelessness.
NDP. The NDP has advocated for a better
commitment by the province to an adequate rent supplement program
because this is a sensible way to ensure people do not unnecessarily
fall into homelessness or other housing problems because of temporary
circumstances that make the rent for their housing unaffordable.
However, to prevent such a program being abused and becoming a way for
landlords to achieve greater profits while providing no real value to
tenants, the NDP also believes changes are needed in the oversight of
rent practices, in particular so that the size of rent increases is
regulated through a process that is fair to both landlords and tenants.
In addition to rent supplements, the NDP also believes the shelter
allowance available for recipients of Alberta Works income support is
too small and prevents people depending on this source of income from
being able to have adequate housing under almost any circumstances. The
processes when people need rent supplements need to be easier to use and
to respond very quickly Without measures such as an adequately funded
and smoothly operating rent supplement program plans to end homelessness
are going to fail as new people fall into this unnecessary situation.
3. Does your party support the full implementation of the 10 Year Homelessness Plan?
PC. The PC party is fully committed to
supporting the full implementation of the 10 Year Plan to End
Homelessness, and the overall budget to support homeless people in
Alberta for 2012-13 is $110 million. Our party believes that a
successful Alberta is one in which every Albertan is empowered to be
part of the economic, social and cultural fabric of the province. This
is why 75 per cent of budget 2012 is allocated to programs in health,
education and human services.
A PC government will be committed to strengthening supports for
vulnerable Albertans in need. Our Plan for Poverty Reduction will focus
on a 5-year plan to eliminate child poverty and a 10-year plan to reduce
overall poverty. This community-led initiative will result in equality
of access to the economy, better health for the impoverished in our
community, stronger families, safer communities and increased civic
participation. Through coordinated efforts at community, municipal, and
provincial levels, the Plan aims to transition efforts away from
managing homelessness to ending it by means of 17 strategies.
As Albertaï¿½s 10-year plan to end homelessness completes its third year
in March, 2012, more than 4,800 formerly homelessness people, including
961 families, have been provided with a safe home.
There are significant economic benefits to reducing poverty beyond the
positive social impact for those immediately affected. Children raised
in poverty are far more likely to have long-term health implications and
a difficult time in school, which is why early intervention is vital.
Alberta is now recognized as a leader in Canada in its approach to
addressing homelessness. We plan on building on this success with our
Plan for Poverty Reduction.
NDP. The NDP has expressed concern every year
since the 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness began that the amount of
money committed in the budget has been far less than what the
government's own committee that recommended its establishment said would
be needed to adequately address the issues of homelessness. That report
began by limiting its consideration of homelessness to only one aspect
of the issue, so it was already falling short of providing answers for
the full magnitude of the problem, but the underfunding of even its
limited framework has increased the challenge of achieving its goals The
NDP does support the full implementation of the 10 year plan, but feels
the plan is not what is really needed in Alberta and should be folded
into a comprehensive housing security plan.
Alberta Party. The Alberta Party believes in creating and implementing an Affordable Housing Strategy for Alberta. We are also committed to continuing Alberta's commitment to the Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness. To learn more about our social policy, please visit www.albertaparty.ca/social