Alberta Budget 2024: Budget 2024 maintains supports for adults with intellectual disabilities but no new funding is provided to support the growing number of children with disabilities and their families

Budget 2024 maintains supports for adults with intellectual disabilities but no new funding is provided to support the growing number of children with disabilities and their families

March 1, 2024

Inclusion Alberta is pleased to see an increase in Alberta Budget 2024 for the Persons with Developmental Disabilities Program (PDD) and AISH, as well as some funding commitments within Education. However, we are concerned about the lack of funding increase to Family Support for Children with Disabilities Program (FSCD) given population growth and inflation.

Disability Supports:

Budget 2024 provides a 3.87% increase to the Persons with Developmental Disabilities (PDD) budget which meets Alberta’s projected population growth of 3.7%. Inflation is projected to be 2.5% in 2024.

The AISH budget has increased in alignment with population growth and the indexation of benefits. Minister of Seniors, Community and Social Services Jason Nixon remarked on budget day, “Rest assured that their program [AISH] will remain in place.”

However, Alberta Budget 2024 provided no budget increase to the Family Supports for Children with Disabilities (FSCD) program, a critical component of Alberta’s social and economic infrastructure.

The failure to provide any increase for FSCD means the program is not adequately funded for the growing number of families who move to our province for work and who require it.

In 2023, more families than ever before, over 1,600, contacted Inclusion Alberta for support and advocacy, many of them struggling without services or with insufficient services. The lack of increase to the FSCD budget means parents of children in the critical early years will continue to struggle to access FSCD services to support their child’s communication, behaviour, development and inclusion in community.

For comparison, education supports funding for school districts increased by 4.4% from last year to support record enrolment growth. The recognition of the need for this increase in education should have been met with a similar commitment to supporting the equivalent growing number of children with disabilities through the FSCD program.

Education:

Despite five consecutive budgets that mention the province’s support for ‘parental choice in education’, the choice of parents to have their child with disabilities included in the regular education classroom is still not consistently honoured. We appreciate the commitment of $44 million to address classroom complexity, including hiring specialists and providing training and development to improve access to educational assistants. However, Alberta Education and school districts have not publicly reported on the outcomes of classroom complexity funding provided in last year’s budget and if it has improved access to inclusive education for children with intellectual disabilities. We call for accountability to ensure this funding supports the parental choice for inclusive education in regular education classrooms.

The increase to Program Unit Funding (PUF) is welcomed, and like classroom complexity funding, we call for Alberta Education to ensure PUF supports enable children to access inclusive early learning settings.

Inclusion Alberta continues to advocate on behalf of children and adults with developmental disabilities and their families for adequate supports needed to live a good life, fully included in their community. We encourage you to reach out to your Member of the Legislative Assembly to the let them know how these budget choices affect your family.

-Inclusion Alberta