Budget 2023 Survey: An Opportunity to Make Your Priorities Known
As it does annually, the Alberta government is soliciting the views of Albertans on what they would like to see as the focus of its 2023-24 budget. You have until January 15th to complete the government’s online budget survey which can be found here.
Recent government measures, such as the indexing of AISH and announced wage increases for support staff working in disability services are welcome but they do not address the thousands of Alberta families on waitlists for supports and funding from FSCD (Family Support for Children with Disabilities) and PDD (Persons with Developmental Disabilities program), the thousands who are receiving less support than needed to enable inclusive lives across the life-span, the continued unacceptable high rates of unemployment for individuals with developmental disabilities and the lack of access to affordable, inclusive and accessible housing.
We appreciate that you will have your own personal views on what the budget priorities should be but nevertheless we respectfully ask that you consider the following in terms of what would be most advantageous to children and adults with developmental disabilities and their families:
Question 7: All economic forecasts we have seen predict that Alberta’s economic growth will lead the country in 2023 with growth everywhere tempered by inflation and other global challenges. As such, we believe Alberta’s economy will continue to improve and indicating confidence in Alberta’s economy enables the government to more readily consider properly funding needed social programs. A lack of confidence in Alberta’s economy allows the government to claim it cannot risk supporting those with the greatest needs.
Question 8: In terms of the interests of persons with developmental disabilities and their families we would suggest considering the following priorities:
- Health care – Investments to improve access to surgeries, emergency care and public health care
- Affordability – Providing additional support to Albertans to deal with the cost of living/rising inflation
- Jobs and Economy – Creating more jobs (but it will be necessary to also check other to indicate your support for job growth is inclusive of persons with development disabilities and sufficient support for parents who want to work but can’t because they lack disability-related supports for their family members with developmental disabilities
- Other – Increased funding to end the lengthy waitlists for FSCD and PDD; increased funding to ensure individuals with developmental disabilities and their families receive sufficient support and funding to ensure an inclusive life.
Three items we would suggest that are not in the interests of children and adults with developmental disabilities are: Bringing government spending in line with other provinces; Repaying debt (which the government will do anyway) and; Maintaining a balanced budget, as too often Albertans with disabilities and other disadvantaged and vulnerable Albertans are sacrificed in the process more than others. If a balanced budget process first took into account, the need to increase funding for Albertans with disabilities and other disadvantaged Albertans then this would be less worrisome as a priority.
Question 9: Consider adding under ‘Other’ – Funding social entrepreneurship and social enterprises committed to the inclusion of persons with developmental disabilities.
Question 13: We would suggest checking ‘Increase government budgets for programs and services’. All the other possible answers have already been considered in other questions, but this is the only question where an increasing budgets for programs and services occurs.
Question 14: The most important item to consider regarding persons with developmental disabilities and their families is: ‘More funding for Social Supports’. Checking more funding for all the items isn’t an effective strategy so please consider your answers carefully and emphasizing more funding for a select few has great benefit to the interests of persons with developmental disabilities and their families.
Question 15: Three items to consider include providing families who access FSCD with funding in advance just as is true for families accessing PDD. Currently FSCD seriously disadvantages families with limited financial resources from benefiting from the very program they might need the most by not providing families with an advance. Another item that would keep more in the pockets of people with developmental disabilities on AISH would be for the government to stop clawing back Employment Insurance benefits and to increase the amount that individuals on AISH can earn before their income is reduced. Since there are no specific questions related to housing, it could be noted that more affordable inclusive housing would allow individuals with developmental disabilities to keep more money in their pockets.
Question 16: As noted previously in the interests of children and adults with developmental disabilities a balanced budget isn’t a priority given the history of balancing budgets to the significant disadvantage of persons with disabilities. There are many avenues to balancing a budget, but these are rarely pursued while limiting social supports is often pursued.
Thank you for taking the time to consider our perspective and in completing the Alberta Government’s 2023 Budget Survey. They survey can be found here and is open until January 15th.
-Trish Bowman, Inclusion Alberta Chief Executive Officer