With the third of nine policy announcements now out, citizens have a chance to see how the Wildrose party plans to ‘move Alberta forward’ in terms of dedicated care programs.
This portion of policy roll-out, entitled Caring for Seniors, Children and the Vulnerable, lays out the foundation of policy changes that would occur with the intent to provide more stable support for citizens that fall into these categories.
“In Canada, the services that we’re talking about fall almost entirely under provincial jurisdictions. The people that we elect to the legislature in Edmonton carry a tremendous responsibility to those in need. Unfortunately, the current government has failed in this regard, and continues to,” said Wildrose Party leader Danielle Smith.
“The fact is, we as a province should be measured based on what we do with our prosperity. As long as Albertans see billions of dollars wasted on pet projects and perks for political insiders, while they just can’t get help for their loved ones in need, we aren’t living up to our potential. It’s time to move forward.”
The policy lays out intended support in the areas of childcare by reviewing child intervention policy and processes, reassessing the structure of foster care and group homes to ensure that objective decision-making, safety, training, compensation and caseload levels are set at the highest possible standards.
“The needs of the children must come first. We will make childcare grants more flexible so that they can be used for more types of childcare, so as to alleviate some of the increasingly high costs of childcare services,” said Smith.
“We also strongly support the role foster and adoptive parents play in the lives of children. Our government will recognize this and make sure that they receive the support that they deserve and need.”
She added, “Children in the care of the government are funnelled into a system by secrecy and a stunning lack of performance measures and oversight,” which has led to the deaths of hundreds of innocent children, many of whom have First Nations backgrounds, she said.
The first step Smith announced in changes her government would bring about for caring for the vulnerable citizens who are sick or disabled was to halt the closure of Michener Centre.
She also said the party is intent on indexing all forms of funding for the Assisted Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH) program so that funding increases with the rate of inflation.
“Our citizens with disabilities continue to be disrespected, marginalized and exposed to all kinds of risks because the government just can’t seem to find a way to make them a priority.”
Funding will also be indexed for Family Community Support Services (FCSS) to the rate of inflation. Five-year funding agreements would be implemented in community agencies that provide continuing care, disability supports and children’s services, she said.
“These groups and agencies are the lives of our most vulnerable. They have the expertise, the experience and most importantly, the genuine compassion for the people they work with. It is imperative that they be equipped to do so on a long-term basis.”
Smith’s policy would include an annual $50 million investment in home care services, as well as a yearly increase of funding allocations to match enrolment in senior care facilities.
She said, “Home care services have suffered under the PC government, with several service disruptions causing a great deal of heartache and anxiety for those who rely on it.”
Smith added that the final aspect of the social support guidelines laid out are to ensure all First Nations and Metis people receive the same level of provincial government services, regardless of whether an individual is living on or off a reserve or settlement.