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  • Province and federal government must commit their shares of funding to rental assistance, new Edmonton Social Planning Council report states

    Province and federal government must commit their shares of funding to rental assistance, new Edmonton Social Planning Council report states

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE February 12, 2020 EDMONTON - A new report released by the Edmonton Social Planning Council shows that the toll of households placed on long waiting lists for rental assistance is high and action is urgently needed. The High Cost of Waiting: Tenant-Focused Solutions to Enhance Housing Affordability sets out to document the impacts on quality of life for Read More
  • Alberta Child Poverty Report - Edmonton Journal Op-Ed

    Alberta Child Poverty Report - Edmonton Journal Op-Ed

    https://edmontonjournal.com/opinion/columnists/opinion-ending-child-poverty-in-alberta-is-our-moral-obligation Alberta Child Poverty Report Edmonton Journal Op-Ed By Joel French, Sandra Ngo, and Ajay Hartenfeld Pandhi Every night, 160,000 children in Alberta suffer the all-encompassing effects of poverty. They are more vulnerable to issues affecting mental health, educational attainment, cognitive development, housing, relationships, employment, and food insecurity throughout their lives. In a province as wealthy as Alberta, it is Read More
  • John Kolkman on CBC Edmonton AM with Mark Connolly and Tara McCarthy

    John Kolkman on CBC Edmonton AM with Mark Connolly and Tara McCarthy

    Funding to help people find affordable housing has been cut 24 per cent by the province. We'll take a look at what that means for low income Albertans trying to find housing. Click here to listen.   Read More
  • Report shows investing in families is key to ending child poverty

    Report shows investing in families is key to ending child poverty

    EDMONTON - The Alberta College of Social Workers, Edmonton Social Planning Council, and Public Interest Alberta have jointly released a report on the state of child and family poverty in Alberta called " Invest in Families: Ending Child Poverty is Good for All .” Click to download: Invest In Families: Ending Child Poverty Is Good For All Click to download: Invest In Families: Read More
  • 2019 Vital Topics - Sports and Recreation

    2019 Vital Topics - Sports and Recreation

    Edmonton Vital Signs is an annual check-up conducted by the Edmonton Community Foundation, in partnership with the Edmonton Social Planning Council, to measure how the community is doing. This year we will also be focusing on individual issues, VITAL TOPICS, that are timely and important to Edmonton.  This edition focuses on the impact of Sports and Recreation. Download: Vital Topic Read More
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BY KAREN KLEISS, EDMONTON JOURNAL OCTOBER 4, 2014

EDMONTON - The number of Alberta families dependent on monthly welfare cheques peaked at 40,000 in 2010 and has yet to return to pre-recession levels, new provincial figures show.

A Journal analysis of newly released provincial data shows monthly caseloads stabilized around 33,000 in early 2014, significantly higher than the roughly 25,000 monthly caseloads before the 2008 financial crash.

The figures also show single people and lone-parent families make up the bulk of households receiving income support, while more than half of all welfare recipients are those not expected to work because they have “barriers to employment” — the only category of recipients that is on the rise.

David Schneider, executive director of program policy for the Human Services department, said the steady increase in that group is mainly made up of older Albertans no longer able to do the work they did when they were younger.

“We see people who are getting older, who maybe when they were in their 30s were able to work manual, physical jobs, and be self-sufficient,” he said.

“They’ve had lots of hard work, and their bodies aren’t in the same shape.”

Schneider said the number of Albertans receiving welfare hasn’t returned to pre-recession levels in part because more people have moved to Alberta, and the figures don’t reflect that population growth. Further, welfare caseloads typically mirror the unemployment rate, but with a six-month delay.

He said most welfare cheques go to single people and lone-parent families because the province measures total household income to determine if a family qualifies for support, and Albertans in a relationship who hit hard times are more likely to be supported by their partners.

The ministry does not measure how many people apply for welfare but are turned away, Schneider said.

The Income Support Program, popularly known as welfare, is a branch of the Alberta Works program. Alberta invests just over $388 million annually to help Albertans in crisis.

Typically, a single person who is expected to work receives $627 per month in support, while a single person with barriers to employment gets $731.

A single parent with two children who is expected to work — say a single mother who has left a violent relationship — receives $1,130.

Albertans on welfare can earn up to $230 a month by working, after which additional benefits are clawed back at a rate of 75 per cent.

John Kolkman of the Edmonton Social Planning Council said the number of welfare recipients with barriers to employment is increasing because front-line caseworkers are under pressure to reduce the number of Albertans receiving Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH).

This is partly because a single person on AISH receives $1,588 per month — more than double the welfare rate — and demand has increased since Alison Redford boosted rates by $400 in 2012.

“People in the front-line agencies will say a lot of those people (who receive income supports) have profiles not dissimilar to people who are in the AISH program, and that some of them should be on AISH,” he said. “It’s really hard to live on income support benefits — they are among the lowest in the country.”

Bill Moore-Kilgannon of Public Interest Alberta said caseloads haven’t returned to pre-recession levels because the government has cut job training programs for people on welfare.

“Unless we are supporting people to get the training they need to get a job, we will continue to see people stuck in the poverty cycle,” he said.

Further, he said “these numbers only represent those who got onto the system. … Who is excluded from support? There is no shortage of people who are in crisis and unable to get help.”

Fundamentally, he said the problem is that the Tories haven’t kept their 2012 election promise to introduce a comprehensive poverty reduction strategy.

“We have to support people before they fall into poverty,” he said.

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Video Feature

Global News - 1 in 6 Alberta children lives below poverty line

Read more about the Edmonton Social Planning Council report on child poverty in Alberta.

Alberta Child Poverty Report - 2018 Click to Download