|What we would like to see in 2016 budget: investing in Albertan's time of need, affordable public transportation, freezing of tuition, social assistance review and of medical benefits and affordable, accessible, safe housing|
January 26, 2016
Alberta Spring Budget 2016 Top picks from the Disability Action Hall
Members of the Disability Action Hall got together to write a letter to the finance minister and members of the Alberta Treasury. Here is our letter (below the picture of our finance minister, Honourable MLA Joe Ceci.
Friday, January 22nd, 2016
Dear Honourable MLA Joe Ceci and Members of the Alberta Treasury,
RE: Upcoming 2016 Spring Budget Priorities
Members of the Disability Action Hall wish to commend the first steps to help balance the budget by the freezing of MLA and administration wages for the 2016 calendar year in order to properly fund social services during these challenging times. We are encouraged the child tax benefit has been expanded for more families in need by your recent announcement, Thursday, January 21st that social services will not be cut. We know that during this time many people are losing their jobs, some of us who are presently employed are very thankful we still have our jobs.
Remember your roots
As a province when we strive to be fiscally responsible, fair and equitable the challenge before treasury is a daunting one. We ask of you, as Minister of Treasury to remember your roots. Don’t be afraid to spend money to help people who are struggling and don’t listen to people who say you shouldn’t be doing it. Investments in the future of our province and its people will help reduced costs in the long run, revenues will go up as people's health improves, have greater access to activities and more money to spend.
Investing in Affordable Public Transportation
We also remind the treasury to help us become more mobile and avoid the impact of isolation in our province by investing in the operation costs of public transportation across Alberta. Helping all of us move around in our province increases everyone’s quality of life.
Investing in the minds of Albertans
We also know in order to increase Albertan’s quality of life we need to be mindful of tuition fees, and they, too, need to be frozen as a symbolic gesture of investing in the minds of our future leaders.
Structure of Social Assistance Programs and Health Benefits
We are very concerned about the structure of social assistance and wonder if it is not enough for Albertans to live a good life in Alberta? One of us went to the dentist and was refused treatment to fix a cracked tooth and was only given antibiotics. The antibiotics may fix the current infection, but it will keep happening until the cracked tooth is fixed, which is never given the current rules. We would like to see an increase in preventative care such as improving dental care and improving our ability to get help from the doctor before we become sicker.
We also understand some Albertans may be falling through the cracks or are waiting too long to qualify for social assistance. We encourage you to not give into the pressure of cutting services to people, whether we are new to the province or are born and raised here.
It has been four years since AISH has been raised and we would like to know the funding priorities for Human Services and if at all possible, hear directly from Minister Irfan Sabir the direction we plan to go as a province. We cannot afford rental homes that are built to current code because the assistance rates are too far low below market. We also believe we need an intergovernmental approach to housing.
We are in a housing crisis and many people are in dire need of affordable, accessible housing.
If we can help our Cities, Province and Country work together to solve this problem, we would love to be of help.
We would appreciate hearing back from you if these are priorities are in alignment with the Alberta budget.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Members of the Disability Action Hall
Right Honourable Premiere Rachel Notley
Honourable MLA Mr. Brian Mason, Minister of Infrastructure and Transportation
Honourable MLA Mr. Irfan Sabir, Minister of Human Services
Honourable MLA Ms. Sarah Hoffman, Minister of Seniors, Housing and Health
MLA Ms. Robyn Luff, Calgary East
Office of the Mayor of Calgary, Mr. Naheed Nenshi