WHEREAS the Government of Alberta has undertaken a comprehensive Low Income Programs Review which consulted 6,000 Albertans;AND WHEREAS the most frequent issue identified during the review was the inadequate level of financial support provided to Albertans receiving income supports;AND WHEREAS since the current rates were set in 1993 the cost of living has increased by an average of 1.8% per year but the rates have not;AND WHEREAS introducing the Market Basket Measure (MBM) as a benchmark and increasing supports to clients whose income is less than the MBM were key recommendations of the Low Income Programs Review;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties urge the Government of Alberta to immediately implement a 20% inflation adjustment increase in all low income programs and to implement a 100% Market Basket Measure system by April 2003, to act as a benchmark for potential benefit increases in the future.
In June 2001, Clint Dunford, Minister of Alberta Human Resources and Employment appointed an MLA Committee to review the departments programs and services that support low-income Albertans. The consultation process included a Discussion Guide and Questionnaire, focus groups and workshops throughout the Province with input solicited from a broad cross section of Albertans including clients, staff, organizations and the general public.Two Low Income Programs Review documents were released by the MLA Committee in November 2001:1. What We Recommend2. What We HeardIn the document, Low Income Programs Review What We Recommend recommendation number two states: Provide enhanced and more flexible financial support.Expected Outcomes:I. Low-income Albertans will have resources sufficient to meet their basic needs.II. The support system will be responsive to differences in regional circumstances, unique family and individual needs, and unforeseen client emergencies.Committee Proposals:Phase in the Market Basket Measure (MBM) as the targeted minimum income threshold.Adjust the income supports for clients whose combined incomes and benefits do not meet the MBM.Currently, Supports for Independence (SFI) provides financial, medical and emergency benefits for 27,100 individuals and families who cannot meet their monthly needs. It provides $397 per month to an employable single individual and $1059 per month to a two-adult family with two children.Minister Dunford has acknowledged that concern about inadequate income support levels was raised repeatedly throughout the low-income programs review. In addition, the Review Committee noted in its report, that Current benefit levels do not meet the needs of many Albertans who rely on income supports. The support system is not flexible enough to meet the higher costs of living in certain communities, especially where housing is more expensive. Adjustments to support levels to recognize these higher costs are neither responsive nor timely.Despite this feedback, the government has said it will not make any immediate changes to benefit levels, and implementation of a 100% Market Basket Measure system will be considered only as budget allows.
The AAMDC has no resolutions currently in effect with respect to this issue.