A variety of efforts are being made to support vulnerable and at-risk Albertans feeling the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, including people with disabilities, people accessing income support programs, homeless and women’s shelters, and civil society organizations that support Albertans.
“Our government is committed to slowing the spread of COVID-19 and protecting vulnerable Albertans. Those who rely on social services need our support more than ever before and we will continue working closely with community partners to address the needs of all who are at risk and help them get through this challenging time,” Minister of Community and Social Services Rajan Sawhney said.
Support is being provided to the disability community to help navigate the COVID-19 crisis. Programs such as Family Support for Children with Disabilities (FSCD), Persons with Developmental Disabilities (PDD) and Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped (AISH) are still available during the pandemic.
Government is working with disability service provider partners to provide personal protective equipment, help maintain staffing, and develop policies to allow for easier access to supports and help ensure the well-being of individuals and families. A reference guide on COVID-19 for people with disabilities has also been developed to provide information on how to stay safe and limit the spread of the virus.
Alberta Supports contact centres remain open, with services accessible by phone or online. Monthly benefits continue to be provided to Albertans accessing AISH and Income Support during the pandemic. Government will be exempting a portion of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) as income for AISH and Income Support recipients.
Homeless shelters and community organizations have received financial support to open 14 new shelter facilities to meet physical distancing requirements and are now focusing their efforts on re-housing to take people out of the shelter system. More than 400 people have been housed since the beginning of the crisis.
Women’s emergency shelters are helping to protect women and children experiencing domestic violence by providing safe isolation in hotels, adjusting programming to meet physical distancing requirements and hiring additional staff so they can respond to increased crisis calls, while continuing to provide supports to women and children.
Government has received 850 applications for the $30 million in funding from charities, not-for-profits and civil society organizations from across the province. These applications are currently being reviewed and urgent requests are being prioritized to deliver the most effective support to vulnerable Albertans.
Government also recently provided $5 million to help food banks and charities. This funding helps ensure safe food distribution to Alberta’s food banks and will assist with efforts to respond to COVID-19.