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WHEREAS the purpose of a municipality is to provide good governance, services, facilities or other things that in the opinion of council are necessary or desirable for all or part of the municipality and to develop and maintain safe and viable communities; and
WHEREAS municipalities provide Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) programs that are of a preventive nature and enhance the social well-being of individuals and families through promotion or intervention strategies; and
WHEREAS over 318 municipalities and Metis settlements participate in the provincial FCSS program; and
WHEREAS in 2010 the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties adopted a resolution calling on the Government of Alberta to provide greater support to FCSS; and
WHEREAS in response to that resolution the Government of Alberta acknowledged the important role that FCSS plays in identifying and addressing preventive social service needs. Saying that prevention and early intervention services are important to building and sustaining healthy families and communities, and FCSS is a key contributor in the continuum of preventive social services at a grassroots level; and
WHEREAS despite this acknowledgement funding was not increased but maintained at $75.7 million; and
WHEREAS the FCSS Association of Alberta issued a media release dated March 20, 2014 outlining its discouragement and concern about the 2014 Alberta Human Services projected budgets for the next two years and the lack of increases for FCSS programs since 2009 which will result in FCSS funding being flat-lined for eight years; and
WHEREAS the Government of Alberta’s Social Policy Framework identifies proactive and preventive approaches to social issues as being key to building and sustaining a system that improves outcomes for children, families and communities; and
WHEREAS increased funding for preventive, proactive social services are critical to creating a sustainable system for children, youth and families, and no increase in funding will result in reducing or eliminating these necessary services and programs; and
WHEREAS investments in proactive and preventative actions lead to less pressure on crisis management and intervention services related to justice, health care, child intervention, and family violence, which will ultimately reduce the economic and social costs to the Government of Alberta and all Albertans;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties request the Government of Alberta to immediately increase provincial funding to municipalities for Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) commensurate to the population growth and annual inflation, thereby relieving some of the pressure on crisis intervention and prevention services and ensuring the sustainability of these essential programs;
FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties work with other partners including, but not limited to Family and Community Support Services Association of Alberta, Alberta Urban Municipalities Association and Calgary FCSS Sustainability Forum to advocate for a fully funded, sustainable provincial FCSS program.
The FCSS philosophy is based on a belief that self-help contributes to a sense of integrity, self-worth and independence. The programs developed are intended to help individuals in the community to adopt healthy lifestyles thereby improving the quality of life and building the capacity to prevent and or deal with crisis situations should the need arise. There has been no increase in funding since 2009 to help support the cost of these programs. Because of this, FCSS is falling further behind in its ability to maintain its level of support to Albertans, and in many cases, much needed services and programs will be reduced or eliminated in municipalities.
17-11F: FCSS Program
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties request the Government of Alberta amend Alberta Regulation 218/94 to add, section 2.1(1) paragraph (vi) to read “provide direct assistance as part of a Pilot Project established for the purposes of identifying and confirming an emerging community need which could then be addressed in the long term through other community means.”
DEVELOPMENTS: The government response notes that a key principle of the FCSS program is local responsibility for priority setting and resource allocation. The current FCSS regulation outlines what services can be provided using FCSS funding and though it states that municipalities determine how the funding they receive should be allocated to best meet the needs of their community, it also identifies services that are not permitted such as those that duplicate services ordinarily provided by a government or government agency. The FCSS regulation was recently reviewed and will expire in June 2015. In this review, the suggested amendment noted in the resolution was not made. As such, this resolution has been assigned a status of Unsatisfactory. The AAMDC will continue to advocate on this issue in anticipation of the expiration of the regulation.
9-10F: Funding to Family and Community Support Services (FCSS)
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties petition the Government of the Province of Alberta to increase provincial funding to municipalities for Family and Community Support Services to 100 million dollars annually thereby relieving the pressure on crisis intervention services.
Human Services: Alberta is a rapidly growing province with complex social needs that require easily accessible services and programs to support people in their communities. Through the Family and Community Support Services (FCSS) program, Albertans have access to a strong network of prevention supports so they can get assistance before there is a need for crisis intervention.
The Government of Alberta recognizes the role that FCSS programs play in supporting our mutual goals of building strong vibrant communities.
Municipalities and Metis Settlements know the priorities of their communities and are in the best position to determine which programs and services receive funding through the FCSS. By having local communities create their own programming, we are confident that the programs reach the people who need them most.
We understand that financial resources are being stretched and difficult decisions are being made locally. The province remains committed to working with its municipal and community partners to deliver services that keep our children healthy and safe, build strong communities and families, and provide better and more accessible services for vulnerable Albertans.
The Alberta government will continue to work together with municipalities to meet the preventive social service needs of Albertans in these challenging economic times.
Treasury Board and Finance: Alberta Treasury Board and Finance will continue to work in partnership with our government colleagues and stakeholders to determine sustainable funding solutions. Requests for additional funding, at this time, will not be approved.
In budget 2015-16, the Government of Alberta increased funding for FCSS services from $76 million to $101 million, which is a needed increase to ensure that FCSS services continue to assist vulnerable Albertans. This funding level was maintained in the 2016-17 budget and the 2017-18 budget.
The AAMDC is currently in the process of collaborating with the Family and Community Support Services Association of Alberta, Alberta Urban Municipalities Association, and Inter-City Forum on Social Policy to engage the Government of Alberta in a strategy to strengthen FCSS programming.
In the summer of 2016, the Minister of Alberta Human Services (now the Minister of Community and Social Services) consulted with FCSS providers, the FCSSAA, the AAMDC, and the AUMA during a process to update the FCSS Regulation to better meet the needs of communities. Community and Social Services staff recently indicated to the AAMDC that there will be no substantial changes to the FCSS Regulation, as stakeholder input did not identify any major concerns with the current structure. The Ministry of Community and Social Services’ decision to maintain the current FCSS structure does not match the intent of the second request in this resolution, which calls for a more sustainable FCSS program. The AAMDC’s 2016 submission to the previous Ministry of Human Services on how the FCSS Regulation could be amended includes a request to increase flexibility of how FCSS providers can use funding, empower FCSS providers to fill gaps in provincial services, and standardize reporting requirements and assist small FCSS providers in developing the capacity to meet them.
As a result of the funding increase and the ongoing efforts of the AAMDC to work with other stakeholders on improving FCSS services, this resolution is deemed Accepted in Part, although the AAMDC is disappointed that the FCSS Regulation will likely remain unchanged except for minor “housekeeping” adjustments.