Here are some of the highlights of the recently announced Provincial Budget. Bissell Centre sees some encouraging numbers in this budget related to strengthening the health and well being of citizens as well as ensuring that there is appropriate support of vulnerable people. The changes to AISH are very encouraging, though more progress is required with Alberta Work benefits.
Bissell Centre also values the analysis provided by the Edmonton Social Planning Council.
Health and Wellness
- 7.9% increase in operating funding for Health and Wellness to $15.9 billion.
- 6% increase to Alberta Health Services’ base operating funding to $10.2 billion.
- $267 million to support staffing and operating costs of South Calgary Health Campus and Edmonton Clinic South.
- $125 million in each of the next three years to support strategic health investments, including family care clinics, additional addictions and mental health services, home care, and enhanced rehabilitation programs.
Benefits and Supports to Vulnerable Albertans
- Maximum monthly income benefit rises by $400, effective April 1, for clients of the Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped program, and monthly income exemptions will double. The program also provides employment income exemptions to clients and their spouses, enabling them to retain a portion of their earnings. The thresholds for the employment income exemptions will double, from $400 to $800 per month for single AISH clients and from $975 to $1,950 per month for AISH clients with cohabiting partners or dependent children. Doubling the employment income exemptions for AISH clients will also come into effect April 1. About 17 per cent of AISH clients and/or their cohabitating partners (more than 7,500 households) report some form of employment income.
- Income support rates increase by an average of 5%, the first rate increase since November 1, 2008.
- Child care subsidy program enhanced to include full subsidy for families with a household income of $50,000 or less.
- 6.6% funding increase for Alberta Seniors Benefit to $351 million.
- Wage increases for contracted agency employees providing services to Albertans with developmental disabilities as well as vulnerable children, youth and families.
- 12.3% funding increase for child intervention to a total of $682 million to provide for higher caseloads and increased case complexity, wages for agency staff, and foster care support.
Helping Municipalities Serve Albertans
- More than $2 billion in capital and direct operating support to municipalities in 2012-13, mostly through the Municipal Sustainability Initiative and infrastructure grants through the Capital Plan. Funding includes nearly $273 million in direct operating support for Family and Community Support Services, policing, and other services.
- $14 million for the Safe Communities Innovation Fund to support crime prevention pilot projects and development of municipal, regional and Aboriginal community crime reduction and prevention plans.
- 90 new RCMP officers and 55 new sheriffs by 2013-14.
- 180 new correctional peace officers and other staff for the new remand centre in Edmonton.
- $110 million to provide outreach support services as well as housing for another 1,800 homeless Albertans, and more than 3,100 spaces in emergency and transitional shelters.
Over the next three years, $16.5 billion will be allocated to public infrastructure to support Albertans’ quality of life, including:
- $5.6 billion in combined total support for municipal infrastructure over three years, including $2.8 billion from the Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI),
- $2.6 billion for health facilities and equipment.
- $300 million for housing programs including social housing, affordable housing and Homelessness Prevention Initiative.
- $25 million in each of the next three years for the Affordable Supportive Living Initiative for seniors’ housing.