Alberta Budget 2019: Positive Yet Problematic

October 25, 2019

Yesterday’s provincial budget was largely positive in terms of its implications for children and adults with developmental disabilities and their families. The budget for Community and Social Services (CSS) will increase by more than 7%, with Family Support for Children with Disabilities (FSCD) growing by more than 8%, and Persons with Developmental Disabilities (PDD) increasing by close to 6%.

Barb MacIntyre, Inclusion Alberta President and parent of a son with developmental disabilities, stated, “Inclusion Alberta wishes to acknowledge Premier Kenney and, in particular, its appreciation of Community and Social Services Minister Sawhney for ensuring children with developmental disabilities and their families will continue to have access to the supports they require to remain together as a family, and adults with developmental disabilities the supports needed to be fully included in community life.”

Trish Bowman, CEO of Inclusion Alberta, stated, “When parents are supported to look after their children with disabilities this enables them to contribute to the Alberta economy and removes the cost pressures that would otherwise fall on other departments, such as Health and Children’s Services. When adults with developmental disabilities gain employment they not only improve their own financial security but also contribute more significantly to our province’s financial picture.”

However, fuelling Alberta’s economic recovery by “pausing” the indexing of AISH to inflation is the wrong decision for the wrong reasons. As the cost of living rises, this de-indexing of AISH will ensure individuals who are unable to work through no fault of their own will become further impoverished. Finance Minister Toews’ reasoning that Alberta is justified in having individuals on AISH fall further behind on the basis that other provinces are not as generous constitutes a race to the bottom. There is something patently wrong when a commitment to lower corporate taxes is offset, to some degree, by keeping disadvantaged Albertans poor.

In terms of the Education budget, children with disabilities have no less a right to an education than any other child. Whatever the current budgetary constraints, the impact must be shared equitably among all. No child, on the basis of a disability, should be treated as less deserving of an education than any other child. This is both a moral imperative and a legal right. We need families of children with and without disabilities to stand together to secure the needed resources for all and not submit to calls for action that may pit one group of children and families against another.

You can find Budget 2019 at the Government of Alberta’s website.